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DA’s latest billboard set alight

DA Billboard Unveiling, Queen Elizabeth Bridge, Johannesburg. By Yanga Sibembe

Having faced public backlash and ongoing legal action from the African National Congress (ANC) for its previous billboard, the Democratic Alliance (DA) unveiled a new billboard on Sunday as part of its election campaign. Less than 24 hours after its unveiling, it too, has been defaced.

A new Democratic Alliance electioneering billboard has been set alight less than 24 hours after it was installed.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes the vandalisation of the Party’s billboard, which read ‘The ANC has killed the lights affecting 57-million South Africans! Time for us to take their power’. While we do not know who the perpetrators are at this point, we do know that this is not the first time one of our billboards depicting the ANC’s failures have been destroyed. We will not be deterred by this blatant act of sabotage,” a statement by the party read on Monday.

The party added that it would be opening a criminal case of vandalism.

The latest incident follows an incident in which a party billboard was vandalised. That billboard, which pointed the finger directly at the ANC for the Life Esidimeni tragedy, the Marikana killings, and some of the children who have died in pit toilets, was part of DA’s Gauteng-based ad campaign and left some people accusing the DA of insensitivity and questioning whether more should be done to vet the messages that parties put out as the country heads toward elections.

Then the ANC lodged a formal complaint with the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). In a statement released following the unveiling of the first billboard, the ANC said: “The ANC is concerned that the conduct of the DA flies in the face of the Electoral Code of Conduct as it is nothing short of spreading deliberate lies about the ANC.”

Undeterred, the DA erected a new billboard on Sunday stating that the ANC has killed the lights (a reference to the recent bouts of load shedding across the country)next to the Queen Elizabeth Bridge in Johannesburg; the exact spot where their previous, controversial billboard had stood.

Asked what message they were trying to send with the latest ad campaign, DA’s Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen said: “We’re trying send the message that there is a direct link between what is going on at Eskom, and the ANC. The ANC is corrupt, its officials are corrupt and it’s time for them to step aside.”

When quizzed about whether pointing out the shortfalls of the ANC was the DA’s main campaign strategy heading towards elections, as well as how effective it was, Steenhuisen said they had other campaigns in the pipeline, outlining their plans for the country should they win the elections.

We are highlighting Eskom because we have strategies to turn it around. We are not just pointing out what the ANC is doing wrong, we have solutions. We have tabled a Cheaper Energy Bill in parliament, which is all about cutting out the monopoly currently in place, thus creating competition and driving down prices for the consumers”.

When Daily Maverick spoke to some pedestrians walking on, or nearby the bridge during the unveiling, they had varying views on the DA’s ad campaign.

One said that the DA was telling the truth, that the ANC had failed the country, stemming from former president Jacob Zuma’s reign.

Another passer-by, a youth, said he was a fan of the DA’s campaigning style. “Oh, they’ve removed the old one? I really liked it, I even took pictures of it. It’s true, the ANC is killing us”.

Another pedestrian said: “Yes, the ANC is failing us, but this message is useless. We will not go back.” 

I don’t see anything wrong with this message. All is fair in love and war,” said another.

Asked whether the IEC actively monitored the messages parties put out as part of election campaigning, IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said: “No we do not. We only act when there is a complaint.”

Just recently the ANC were also forced to take down a billboard. According to The South African the billboard -at  Selborne College, in East London – had to be removed because it contravened the South African Schools Act. Section 33 Part 4 explains that no political propaganda should be on display near a school: A school may not allow the display of material of a party-political nature on its premises unless such party-political material is related to the curriculum at the school.” DM

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