March 16, 2011

Top 6 South African political parties – online


Zuma likes and Zille tweets – the battle for online political pull has begun!

It could easily be argued that were it not for the massive influence of social media, Barack Obama may not have won the US presidential election and in turn, changed the face of political history forever. The bottom line is simple, Obama knows his stuff. Using a massive online strategy which included Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube he was able to extend his reach to millions of hungry online minds with the simple click of a button – the internet essentially doing for him what television did for Kennedy. With more than nine million friends on Facebook and millions more on Twitter, it’s clear to see; by embracing the tools of the digital age, Obama was able to propel his status to atomic heights.

Let’s take a look at our South African political giants to see if they’ve got similar tactics in mind…

[box type="info"]*We used a tool called to compile the following stats. Website Grader is a great way to find out how well your website is functioning online as it analyses and compiles stats based on a variety of functions, then prepares a report to tell you where your website’s at. See the bottom of the page for simple explanations on what each heading means. [/box]

1. DA – Democratic Alliance


Helen knows her stuff too, as the DA has a solid online presence and is highly active in a variety of social media campaigns. The governing party of the Western Cape, which has roots in the anti-Apartheid movement of the 70’s, is the only official opposition to the ANC and also the only party in South Africa to have grown significantly in the last three elections, gaining more than 1 million new voters in the last election and claiming 67 seats in parliament.

Democratic Alliance

Website Grade 95 %
MOZ Rank 5
Indexed Pages 3 850
Traffic Rank 287 889
Linking Domains 460
Facebook friends 6 249 Like
Twitter followers 1534 Follow
Twitter followers for Helen Zille 21 394 Follow

2. ANC – African National Party


With a huge following in South Africa, the ANC and has been the ruling party since the establishment of democracy in 1994 – call me captain obvious. In 2009 they received 65.9 percent of the country’s votes. In the past, when a political leader addressed the public, the evening news would choose a clip to play and anyone who wasn’t there would miss out on all the rest. Fortunately in 2011 we’ve got YouTube to ensure nothing goes unseen in the world. This can be a blessing and a curse for today’s political parties – on one hand we get to enjoy the privilege of watching our president address the nation yet on the other, we also get to witness other leaders in their less than graceful moments – YouTube is a bloody agent!

African National Party

Website Grade 95 %
MOZ Rank 6
Indexed Pages 12 500
Traffic Rank 437 587
Linking Domains 3077
Facebook friends 20 762 Like
Twitter followers (Youth league) 4290 Follow

3. COPE – Congress Of The People


Started by former members of the ANC, COPE received 7.42 percent of the votes in the last elections. A wide range of support from various powers in the country, including other party leaders, has ensured that COPE has slowly gained strength and momentum since forming in 2008. They’ve have had enough publicity over the last few years to ensure that, one way or another, everyone knows their name.

Congress Of The People

Website Grade 25 %
MOZ Rank -1
Indexed Pages N/A
Traffic Rank 6 159
Linking Domains N/A
Facebook friends 618 Like
Twitter followers 104 Follow

4. VF – The Freedom Front


The political party that essentially represents the voice of the Afrikaaner in government, the VF has never really been about attracting the most number of votes but focuses instead on gaining better results within areas that are important to their cause. In 2004 they got 0.83 percent of votes which was a drop from the 2.17 percent they got in 1994. That being said, they still have a lot of online supporters who are not only Afrikaans speaking.

The Freedom Front

Website Grade 65 %
MOZ Rank 4
Indexed Pages 7 350
Traffic Rank 4 895 785
Linking Domains 191
Facebook friends 8 481 Like
Twitter followers N/A

5. ID – Independent Democrats


Formed by Patricia de Lille in 2003, the ID is well known for its mixture of right and left wing views and its strong stances on corruption. In 2010 the party announced that they would be merging with the DA to form one larger, stronger party in the forthcoming elections. They took 0.92 percent of votes in the last one. Although they’re not very active online you can download their ringtone from the website, which is a nice touch for fans.

Independent Democrats

Website Grade 90 %
MOZ Rank 5
Indexed Pages 1440
Traffic Rank 15 645 420
Linking Domains 145
Facebook friends 451 Like
Twitter followers N/A

6. IFP – Inkatha Freedom Party


The IFP is the fourth largest party in the National Assembly and has been led by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a former ANC Youth League member, since being founded in 1975. In the 2009 elections they performed more poorly than expected by most, taking in just 4.55 percent of votes which was a staggeringly low compared to 10.54 percent in 1994. Let’s see whether they’ll get back in the game for the upcoming elections.

Inkatha Freedom Party

Website Grade 66 %
MOZ Rank 4
Indexed Pages 2 150
Traffic Rank 4 153 013
Linking Domains 288
Facebook friends 445 Like
Twitter followers N/A

[box type="info"]What the stats mean[/box]

Each stat is determined by a broad scope of information but for those who want the gist, here’s what the numbers mean…


Website Grade

Website Grader uses their own formula to work out how well the overall site ranks statistically on Google – the score is out of 100%.

MOZ Rank

mozRank is SEOmoz’s link popularity metric that shows how popular (in terms of links) a webpage is on the web – the score is out of 10.

Indexed Pages

Indicates the number of pages related to the given website that have actually been identified by search engines.

Traffic Rank

The traffic rank is based on historical traffic data from millions of Alexa Toolbar users and is a combined measure of page views and users (reach). The most popular site would be number one, for instance, so the lower the number the better.

Linking Domains

Refers to the number of sites on the web which specifically link to the given site.



Who shines online?

Based on website design, stats from Website Grader and general social media usage, the DA and the ANC both seem to be on top of their game. Sounds like a sit on the fence cop out, sure, but the figures speak for themselves and both parties are clearly embracing the digital age. If we had to make a noteworthy mention, we’d say the DA is harnessing the power of social media best – it’s truly impressive that Helen Zille has more than 20 000 followers on Twitter!

Overall, there seems to be very little emphasis placed on online marketing in this country. Many of the sites are badly optimized for users and search engines alike – we won’t go into detail here, the list is long. Considering there are more than thirteen million people online in South Africa, there is definitely potential for growth using SEO and social media tools.

[box]Agree? Disagree? No idea what we’re on about? Leave a comment and let us know what you think …[/box]

About the Author

Jacky Letard started her career as a photographer and writer in Joburg before moving to Cape Town for fresher air and wicked scenery. Due to her ever growing love of the web, she now works as a content writer at R.O.I Media and gets her fix daily as she learns more about SEO and social media tools.


  1. Really interesting article. I really thought that more of the parties would actually bother to sort their websites out, but after looking at this, it seems that a website is an after thought with virtually no budget or care. It looks like the DA is the only party that took the time to actually plan a website. Shame!

  2. J

    Impressive, Zuma must have a waterproof laptop that he uses to promote the ANC while he showers. Funny, politicians constantly talk about reaching out to the youth but fail to grasp the importance of using the internet.

  3. Mr K

    Just further proof with how out of touch most of these people who want to be our leaders really are. Kudos to Helen Zille for continuing to be more advanced in every way.

    @ J – Maybe Zuma could have one of his brides explain the internet to him a little better? :D

  4. ALT

    Interesting stat’s. Would be keen to understand how many of the parties followers know about social media

  5. Mary Janson

    I would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. in my opinion it seems as though South Africa is slowly getting to grips with online marketing and social media.. Although not great, but sufficient enough to not make us look bad on the international stage.

  6. Tshaba

    Good to see politicians getting with the times. Great article!

  7. Proof that most politicians are way behind in terms of social media and using it to their advantage. I mean you would think that they would be able to see and realise how successful Obama was during his campaign by using social technology to propell his reach. C’mon folks wake up – the net is a powerful tool – so use it.

  8. David Philips

    I love the DA website, very clean and crisp. They definately get my vote for the site :)

    The ANC is screaming yellow but a good structure behind it.

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