THE Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) have denied allegations that they paid social media personalities to influence the 2018 Student Representative Council (SRC) elections.
The allegations emerged in an amaBhungane report published on Friday, March 1, which claimed that social media personalities, paid to tweet promotional content and known as ‘influencers’, may have been employed to sway elections in the ANC’s favour.
The report listed last year’s Wits SRC elections as a possible case. The 2018 elections resulted in the PYA winning 12 out of the 13 SRC seats.
The report listed several social media influencers including Wits alumnus Zukhanye Ncapayi, a YouTube and Twitter personality with more than 19 000 followers.
Ncapayi’s Twitter account indicates that on October 16, 2018, she tweeted in support of the PYA and urged her followers to follow suit. She tweeted that she had voted for the PYA, even though according to her LinkedIn profile she graduated in 2017, making her ineligible to vote in the 2018 SRC elections.
A screenshot emerged on social media during the 2018 SRC campaign of what appeared to be a post by well-known social media influencer, and Ncapayi’s boyfriend and business partner, Karabo Motsoane, in a Wits campaign WhatsApp group: “Afternoon guys. So as some of you might know, SRC elections are underway. And PYA are asking for us to. Promote gor the for 3 days. They’re paying R100 a day.”
The Wits PYA queried the authenticity of the WhatsApp screenshot and the time and tweeted a statement that read: “We would like to clarify that the below screenshot and alleged campaign/WhatsApp group have not been commissioned, endorsed or agreed to by the PYA.”
SRC deputy-president Nkateko Muloiwa said it would have been impossible for the Wits PYA to have paid any social media influencer to tweet in support of the party.
“We cannot get access to cash, as everything has to be approved by the internal financial structures of the university.
“We never paid anyone, and anyone who says otherwise is living in a fool’s paradise,” he told Wits Vuvuzela.
Final-year BA student and Wits EFF member, Duma Nkabinde, said that he found claims that there were paid influencers believable.
“I’m convinced that, yes, the PYA uses characters who seem apolitical on their social networks but have a large following, to influence young people in spaces of higher learning,” he told Wits Vuvuzela.
FEATURED IMAGE: Wits PYA members who were voted onto the SRC in the 2018 elections have denied that they paid social media influencers to swing votes in their favor.