Since anxious reports of Cape Town’s dreaded drought, and subsequent Day Zero, the social media community across the country’s responses to the Western Cape’s dire situation have been a wicked mix of humour and borderline tactlessness.
The other side of the argument is that the Day Zero tweets and posts’ sinister nature was fuelled by a Twitter debate started by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.
Zille truly put her foot in it when she tweeted about colonialism, in response to a tweet about the drought affecting the province.
It all began on a fateful January morning, with a picture posted by a social media user showing children carrying buckets of water in wheelbarrows along a dusty road, with the words: “I really fail to understand why this WC #DayZero is attracting attention to a point where even an Army will come to de rescue. We grew up nd still living in de #Day Zero, when will government nd Army rescue us? #DefeatDayZero.”
Zille responded to this by saying: “It must be a relief that you weren’t burdened by the legacy of a colonial water piping system.”
Shortly after this, a few social media users began poking fun at both Zille and Day Zero, creating memes beckoning the premier to take a shower with them, and having ice for dinner, among others.
Hi @helenzille come have shower with me.
— KE SHARP (@danielmarven) January 28, 2018
Laughs in cape town😂😂😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/1kXffYxvR4
— Theone(1) (@Lemza11) January 28, 2018
One of these memes was a reply to Zille from a Johannesburg Twitter user. The reply was a GIF featuring a man drinking a glass of water, and spilling it all over his face.
Hello from Jozi pic.twitter.com/o6pe4GoKjt
— Phumlani Khulu (@Pumbaah1512) January 28, 2018
In a rage, Zille responded to the tweet, saying: “For all the gloating Joh’burgers, please remember: Karma can be a real bitch.” However, instead of simply replying to the user’s post, Zille ‘accidentally’ posted this as a tweet, sparking outrage from many Twitter users.
Although Zille did apologise, it was too far gone, and helped fuel a different kind of Cape Town water challenge – one of a more sinister and gloating nature.
I certainly DO owe all the caring Joh'burgers an apology. I was responding to a tweet sent to me of a person wasting water and telling me, gloatingly that in Jozi they don't have a problem. Somehow my reply got appended to the wrong tweet. HUMBLE APOLOGIES. https://t.co/rU6hfDTwBr
— Helen Zille (@helenzille) January 28, 2018
Despite some memes on Day Zero being entertaining, albeit a bit demoralising for Capetonians, a new trend emerged on both Facebook and Twitter, coined ‘Hey Cape Town challenge’.
Try the Hey Cape Town Challenge… The post videos of how they throw water down the drain. Cc @helenzille
— JC MacFarlane (@Macfarlane123) January 31, 2018
These memes, GIFS and videos, usually posted on Twitter, picture residents of other provinces (mostly Gauteng) intentionally wasting water, in a bid to tease Cape Town. The posts usually start with ‘Hey Cape Town!’ and go on to show people pouring buckets of water into the street or down the drain. As much as the trend started out as a lighthearted attempt to make sense of Day Zero, it has, in many people’s opinions, gone too far.
The Citizen, with the help of a recent Letaba Herald article, has chosen some of the most poignant of these memes, GIFS and tweets, for you to decide – has this trend gone too far?
— Nkuna (@ClintDN) January 26, 2018