President Cyril Ramaphosa makes South Africans happy, if the results of the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) gross national happiness (GNH) index, released yesterday, are anything to go by.
On Saturday, the day of the inauguration, researchers followed the day’s happiness score hourly to evaluate the mood of South Africans. In the morning, happiness followed the same pattern as all preceding Saturdays, with the high being reached a little later than during the week, at approximately 9am. The rest of the day’s happiness scores fluctuated between 6.5 and 6.8.
However, on a normal Saturday the happiness score starts to decline from 2pm onwards.
The researchers observed that this was not the case on the day of the inauguration, in that instead of the mood declining from 2pm, it increased to highs of seven and more and the happiness score remained higher than on any other Saturdays until 8.30pm, reflecting the positive mood of the country.
UJ wellbeing economist Professor Talita Greyling and her Auckland University of Technology colleague, Dr Stephanie Rossouw, developed the GNH index of South Africa based on sentiment analysis of the daily tweets of South Africans, from which they derive a happiness score.
The scale of the happiness scores are between one and 10, with five being neutral. According to the researchers, analysing the tweets clearly demonstrated that people in the country liked what they saw and heard during the inauguration.
“A change is desperately needed in all facets of society; economically, politically and socially. The country has faith in President [Cyril] Ramaphosa and will follow his policy decisions closely and come next election, will hold him to his promises,” the researchers said in a statement.
They have been following the political events in the country since a week before the elections and found that the happiness index was very closely related to political events. They repeated the exercise in Australia during its elections, held on May 18, and found the same trend there – the happiness of a nation and political events are closely correlated.
According to the analysis, South Africa’s higher happiness score carried over to Sunday, with Sunday’s levels of happiness higher than the preceding Sundays (with the exception of Mother’s Day, which showed high levels of happiness).
Interestingly, they observed that the rand also strengthened against the dollar from R14.49 last Thursday to R14.40 on Saturday.
“As the country anxiously awaits the announcement of the Cabinet, the high level of political energy was reflected in the higher scores of happiness throughout Sunday. This will be the first opportunity for President Ramaphosa to show his determination and steel and deliver on his promises. Will he decrease the size of the outrageously large Cabinet, to limit unnecessary expenditure? We will have to wait and see,” the researchers added.