South African media were far more critical of President Jacob Zuma’s 2014 cabinet than they were of his 2009 version. Then, just about one in every four statements in the media provided positive view of the cabinet. Now, the picture is rather stark. Less than one in 100 statements generated a positive statement about the country’s new cabinet, according to research by Media Tenor SA. The figures were based on 1 702 statements on the new SA cabinet in 47 opinion-leading South African print and TV news outlets.
Ministers who were re-shuffled by Zuma during his first term as president drew more media attention than those new to the cabinet. The research revealed that of all the new ministers in Zuma’s inflated cabinet, new finance minister Nhlanhla Nene received the most positive reception, but even that was far less than when his predecessor, Pravin Gordhan, took over from Trevor Manuel in 2009.
Minister Nene received just under half of the positive remarks that were bestowed upon Minister Gordhan when he became Finance Minister, Media Tenor reported. The introduction of both finance ministers in the 2009- and the 2014 cabinet was positively received in the South African media but Gordhan received more than twice the amount of positive coverage that Nene received in the past week.
“This is not surprising, given that Minister Nene’s media image has been rather quiet prior to the announcement of the new cabinet, while Pravin Gordhan’s media image was more evident leading up to the 2009 elections — given his work at SARS,” says Stephano Radaelli, senior researcher at Media Tenor South Africa.
Previous Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane took a few hits as media focused on issues around her service delivery record while premier of the country’s economic hub. Media Tenor found analysis show media was “less confident about whether she would be able to deliver in her new role” as minister of water and sanitation. Mokonyane famously told residents of Bekkersdal, protesting over lack of service delivery to their area, that the ANC didn’t need their “dirty votes”, which she denied after a massive outcry.
“The positive reception for Ministers Nene and [Magoma] Masike, among others, suggests that their reputation is off to a good start, while the same cannot be said for Ministers Mokonyane and Gordhan,” Radaelli said. “Pravin Gordhan’s shift to a new portfolio has been largely perceived by the media as a demotion instead of the prospects he is bringing to his new portfolio.”
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