Dagga, chicken roasts and memes: Is Minister Tito Mboweni an influencer now?

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With his upcoming budget speech looming over many South Africans’ heads, minister Tito Mboweni takes to Twitter to discuss important, and not-so-important issues. 

If you’ve been holding off following local ‘influencers’ for being fake or trying too hard, have we got a suggestion for you. Minister Tito Mboweni is an absolute vibe on Twitter. Living it up on his farm in Magoebaskloof, he regularly posts pics to Twitter showing off his shoes, his meals and his livestock. He even posts memes depicting himself — is this man a closet millennial?

Mboweni made headlines early in 2020 after he posted some ‘dope’ pics of a dagga tree growing on his farm. Following a series of tweets, Mboweni encourages SA Police Service to “Arrest me then! It’s growing on my farm!!💪🏿💪🏿.” Even though Mboweni hasn’t confirmed whether he planted the cannabis plant, but what we do know is that he sees massive potential in legalising the plant. 

“Legalizing this thing = more tax revenue. I need more tax (money) urgently!! Radical Economic Transformation!!” Right on, Tito. 

The current law around cannabis in South Africa is quite complex, especially after the Constitutional Court declared the private growth and use of the plant protected by people’s rights to privacy. The Con-Court has been given up until the end of 2020 to cement new regulations around the plant. And if it’s up to Mboweni, we may see drastic legalisation action. 

Another fascinating ritual we can’t get enough of, is Mboweni’s food posts. He is the minister of Lucky Star and a national foodie icon, after all. He has built a community of followers who comment on his food pics, while he gives cooking advice. Our favourite instalment so far is his step-by-step photo series of cooking a chicken-based dish in his Le Creuset cookware. 

In a perfect world, Lucky Star ought to sponsor Mboweni as its official influencer. Especially considering he has no shame posting somewhat humiliating memes of himself, like the one of him sticking out of a Lucky Star pilchards can. 

As some of his followers have pointed out, there are far more pressing issues in South Africa. Especially when it comes to bolstering a struggling economy — exactly what the minister of finance is employed to do. What is he doing making/posting memes at a time like this? All good points, however, I’m convinced Mboweni is trying to live an unfiltered life online, which is crucial to establishing reliability and trust among followers. 

It’s a foolproof strategy to personify a person of stature, something we see happening daily on social media through so-called ‘influencers’. The more ‘human’ a person acts online, the more compassion their followers will have for them. And frankly, that’s exactly what the South African government needs right now. 

Last week, while the minister and his core drafting team were working on the budget speech scheduled for Wednesday 26 February, they were rudely interrupted by load shedding. It looks like the minister could gain some insight by downloading EskomSePush… But this is just another reminder that officials are also hit by failing state resources. Not that it helps, but go ahead and browse through his memes. 

If you’re looking to follow pressing political and economic issues in South Africa, but like the occasional picture of a chicken or dagga tree — give the minister a follow. We can’t promise the most insightful content, but you’ll definitely be entertained. 

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Digital Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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