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Online Electoral Deceptive Tactics

South African citizens are anxious, excited, and uncertain about the outcome of the upcoming May 29 elections which mark thirty years of democracy. There is undisputable consensus among the citizens that this election will mark a critical turning point in South Africa's democratic and political history. However, the anxiety and uncertainty within the political and electoral landscape have become a breeding ground for propaganda and disinformation. Propaganda and disinformation are seen to be posing dangers to SA’s democratic process. Both polarise communities, mislead voters, and erode trust in public institutions, responsible for election administration. To confirm these dangers, a recent UNESCO study notes that: "In today's rapidly evolving digital environment, opportunities for communication between citizens, politicians, and political parties are unprecedented –– with information related to elections flowing faster and easier than ever, […]with billions of human beings connected, ‘propaganda’ and disinformation circulating unhinged around the networks, democratic processes and access to reliable information are at risk.”[1] This risk is what South Africa is experiencing in its 2024 elections. Considering this, there is a need to shield democracy in the republic by countering propaganda and disinformation. The article's purpose is to discuss recent trends of propaganda and disinformation in South Africa's 2024 elections. The paper will also suggest possible measures to mitigate their impact.

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