Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa is outperforming President Jacob Zuma in South Africa’s media, new research has found. Glenda Nevill reports.
Global media analysis operation, Media Tenor, based its findings on over 31 000 reports from 1 September 2014 until the end of August 2015. “We code for opinion leading print media such as Business Day, the Times, the Citizen, The New Age, The Star etc and source equal numbers of clips from each different type,” researcher Jordan Griffiths told The Media Online. This includes television channels such as eNCA and the SABC.
“Coverage on Ramaphosa was characterised by balanced sentiment for most of 2015, with a significant increase in June 2015 when compared to the president,” said comments Theresa Lotter, managing director at Media Tenor in a statement.
The research showed that while Ramaphosa did experience “negativity” over his role in the Marikana Massacre, and that it was “heavily debated” over the last year, President Jacob Zuma was perceived with “heightened negativity” as a result of the ongoing Nkandla scandal and the use of taxpayers’ money to fund renovations at his private home and the failure of the South African government to arrest Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir when he was in South Africa attending an African Union summit. The research found that “general issues around corruption in the governance of South Africa” were laid at Zuma’s door as the leader of the ANC and government.
“Ramaphosa’s media reporting is consistently positive compared to Zuma. A notable split in tonality came after Zuma was criticised after the government failed to arrest Omar al-Bashir, while Ramaphosa saw a boost in his image after being cleared on issues concerning Marikana,” the report said. “The media has been kind to him regarding future events which could bode well should he have presidential ambitions.”
The media has often noted how President Jacob Zuma assigns Ramaphosa to handle difficult situations arising in Parliament and out of it, from Eskom, and the foreign visa issue to relationships with the opposition. Yet it is this that has seen respect for Ramaphosa grow. “Ramaphosa’s media image has been shaped by the work he does in parliament, his role in leading and organising committees and his interactions with opposition politicians. Whereas Zuma has been consistently criticised by opposition political parties for issues such as mismanagement of funds and his ability to govern in general,” the report found.
But Ramaphosa could see his image “at risk” into the coming months after he used a jet from a Gupta-owned company to fly to Japan recently.
“Within the analysis that we do, we strive to avoid using the term neutral and rather choose to label the yellow coverage as ‘no clear tone’,” Griffiths explains. “The reason for this is that when we measure for rating our analysts look for a clear indication that a statement is reflected either in a positive or negative light, this is done through analysis of the language along with exploring the context of the statement within the article as a whole. Thus when there are no clear indicators as based on our rating methodology the statement is recorded as having ‘no clearly identifiable tone’.”
IMAGE: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa with Japanese Prime Minister Shinto Abe on a recent visit to Japan / GCIS
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