In early May 2011 I noticed that President Jacob Zuma had a twitter account. Given the experiences of former ANCYL President Julius Malema and many others who claimed spoof Twitter accounts were opened under their names, I didn’t want to take chances.
On 10 May, at 06:13 pm I sent an email to The Presidency’s Zanele Mngadi:
I am a social network twitter with username @AkanyangM and have come across a name claiming to be that of the President of South African, @SAPresident, Jacob Zuma. Given the many spoof social network accounts that have in the past been created as those of well-known people, including those of ANCYL President Julius Malema, I therefore wanted to check with the Presidency if indeed this is the official account of the President of the country. And if so, I would also like to know why it has not been verified with Twitter itself. I would really appreciate your assistance in this small request, thanks.
The next day, Mngadi responded, confirming this was President Zuma’s account: “Yes, it is”, asking what I meant when asked whether the account had indeed been verified with Twitter at the time. Because it appeared as though The Presidency office did not understand the verification process of a high profile Twitter account like Zuma’s, I replied instantly:
We have often found that there are many Twitter accounts that are opened with other people’s details. For example, before about a week ago and before the death of Osama Bin Laden, there were two Twitter accounts on his name. However, upon responding to this email and checking if that was still the case, I found that there were now four Twitter accounts in his name: @/BINLADEN_0SAMA, @0samaBinLaden_, @_0samaBinLaden_ and here’s the last one, @0samaBlnLaden.
I am sure you would remember when ANCYL President said that there were people who created an account on twitter with his name. About 8, that I counted at the time of writing this mail, were created with his name. It is not only him. Even SACP’s Jeremy Cronin had a spoof twitter account created on his name. There are many examples. Even Nelson Mandela Foundation had its account verified by Twitter. I think assistance can be sought from Twitter, writing on the President’s behalf and requesting this account @SAPresident to be verified as that of the President of SA.
Having taken this advice with verify the @SAPresident account with Twitter, on 13 May Sunil Gopal send me email, saying: “Thank you for your intervention. Both the @SAPresident and @PresidencyZA accounts have now been verified.” To which Mngadi replied “Lovely.”