Newly elected Democratic Alliance (DA) party leader Mmusi Maimane on Wednesday conducted his question and answer session in cyberspace in what was dubbed the Twitter Town Hall.
Maimane said he enjoyed interacting with the electorate on the popular social media platform.
“The Twitter Town Hall was a great experience – it was great to engage with South Africans on issues of policy, and on my vision for the DA and South Africa,” said Maimane.
The Twitter Town Hall provided a way for South African social media users to get to know the official opposition party’s leader, who was elected on Sunday at the DA Federal Congress in Port Elizabeth.
The only rule of the Twitter session was for users to tag questions with #AskMmusi. This hashtag continued to trend on Twitter, even after the #AskMmusi Twitter Town Hall had closed its doors.
Twitter users asked Maimane serious questions related to politics, policy and current affairs. When asked which portfolio he would want, if ever he got to serve in the National Cabinet, Maimane said it would be within the finance portfolio “so that we can fix the economy to create more jobs as a first priority”.
On South Africa’s role in improving the region, Maimane said it was the country’s job to increase trade and “halt quiet diplomacy”.
About engaging with the electorate on Twitter, he said: “I would like to do this again, because in the age of social media, it is one of the most direct ways to engage with South Africans.”
“Ultimately, as a politician, I am accountable to South Africans whether it is [with] a community or on social media platforms,” he said.
The questions that received the most attention during the online conversation were ones Maimane would rarely field in his day-to-day working environment, such as: “Are you in love with a gogo?”. The question was accompanied by a photograph of former party leader Helen Zille giving Maimane a kiss on the cheek.
Another user asked Maimane: “If Heavy K loses a lot of weight, what can he call himself?”
Other questions were light-hearted, such as who Maimane thought wore it best between Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian West, and what the address was of the Eskom employee who “turned electricity off”.
“I laughed a bit at some of the tweets. South Africans have a great sense of humour,” he said.
On whether he preferred his time in Twitter Town Hall to that in Parliament, Maimane said there was no comparison.
“The questions on Twitter are raw and to the point. There are no rules and points of order,” he said. “Nonetheless, I enjoyed it, and hope to do it again sooner rather than later.” – ANA