President Jacob Zuma has been ordered to remove a tweet about former minister Derek Hanekom within 24 hours, apologise and pay him damages.Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
President Jacob Zuma has been ordered to remove a tweet about former minister Derek Hanekom within 24 hours, apologise and pay him damages.Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

Former president Jacob Zuma and his allies have weaponised Twitter. It is a delicious irony that he now has to fork out R500,000 for doing so, after he was hauled to court by ANC national executive committee member Derek Hanekom for a tweet in which he called him an "enemy agent".

The use of Twitter to attack political opponents and influence the political discourse began in earnest when the Gupta family, along with Zuma’s son Duduzane, recruited the now defunct public relations firm Bell Pottinger to further their state capture project.

Twitter became a dangerous place for journalists, commentators and opinion makers who opposed the narrative Zuma and his cronies were attempting to create.

But even after Zuma’s removal and with the Guptas on the run, the use of social media to influence politics continues. EFF trolls stepped into the void.

The latest example, ostensibly originating from the EFF, is the circulation of a fake list of judges supposedly paid from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign donations.

The Hanekom judgment should be a lesson for those using Twitter to peddle misinformation: lies, in the end, are a blunt instrument.

And now there will be consequences as well.