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Own goals on the poll poles: Rating SA’s election posters

Own goals on the poll poles: Rating SA’s election posters
Election posters for the ANC, EFF and DA in Pretoria. South Africans will vote in general elections on 29 May. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg)

Political campaign posters currently festoon lampposts and street poles the length and breadth of South Africa. We took a look at which ones are a win and which are for the bin.

ActionSA

ActionSA’s Herman Mashaba and Michael Beaumont at the official launch of ActionSA’s slogan posters for the 2024 elections at the Carlton Centre Hotel on 23 February 2024 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle)

ActionSA is pinning a lot here on the popularity of its leader Herman “Fix It” Mashaba, who absolutely nobody in real life refers to by that flattering nickname outside of his own party strategists. 

Lovely use of the artfully draped South African flag backdrop, since the last 72 hours strongly suggest that large chunks of the country are fanatically attached to our national symbols. Extra points for Mashaba’s dimples and a facial expression that’s friendly but not a simpering grin.

Rating: 4/5

One can understand the temptation of using the main bit of your party name in a punny slogan, but this line is failing to launch due to a certain obviousness behind the sentiment. Is anyone suggesting that SA could be fixed through inaction

Does anyone think the nation could come right if we all had a little lie-down instead? Well done to ActionSA, however, for having so firmly taken possession of that particular shade of green (would we call it chartreuse?) in the aesthetic landscape of our politics.

Rating: 2/5

EFF

An election poster of Julius Malema of the Economic Freedom Fighters in Pretoria, South Africa, 30 April 2024. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg)

EFF is keeping things exceptionally simple with this one. It’s a great photo of leader Julius Malema, who looks boyish and wholesome; kinda like he might happily stop to help an old lady with directions, rather than promise to “cut the throat of whiteness” and nationalise everyone’s pocket money. 

Credit to the EFF for specifying the election date. This is probably more necessary than you might realise; an IEC contract worker in the Northern Cape recently told us confidently that the elections were in June.

Rating: 4/5

An Economic Freedom Fighters election poster in Pretoria, South Africa, 30 April 2024. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg)

The exclamation marks here give the message an extra revolutionary urgency; they’re not asking, they’re demanding! NOW! It feels a bit like a kidnapper’s ransom note, but there’s no denying that it’s punchy.

Rating: 3/5

DA

A DA poster in Worcester, April 2024. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

There’s a lot that could be said about this, but the DA’s most fanatical supporters are still recovering from the aneurysms brought on by ye olde flag ad critique, so let’s keep it to this. 

To accompany a picture of a smug-looking Caucasian guy with the words “Rescue SA” prompts one question: Has nobody at DA HQ ever heard of white saviour complex?

Rating: 1/5

ANC

A man holds an ANC election poster as he came to celebrate 30 years of freedom at the Union Buildings on 27 April 2024, Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo: Per-Anders Pettersson / Getty Images)

The ANC is clinging to the slogan they first trotted out in 1994: “A Better Life For All”. To be fair, it’s a brilliant one; a classic in the pantheon of political slogans, even if the past 30 years have also revealed it to be patently untrue. 

This election season, the party is supplementing it with a real dud: “Let’s do more, together.” For swathes of the country lacking access to the most basic of services, a reasonable retort would be: “No, you do more, or, in fact, anything”. But it’s a stony heart that wouldn’t be even slightly melted by that Ramaphosa smile.

Rating: 2/5

MK

A campaign poster for the uMkhonto Wesizwe Party outside the homestead of former South African president Jacob Zuma in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 25 April 2024. (Photo: Leon Sadiki / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Boy oh boy, it’s a feeble mind that would fail to be even slightly triggered by JZ’s face back on our nation’s lampposts. Zuma is presumably supposed to be beaming in an avuncular fashion in this picture, but instead looks like he was photographed while rubbing his hands together after counting the Gaddafi gold.

Rating: 1/5

Rise Mzansi

An election poster for the Rise Mzansi party in Johannesburg, South Africa, 30 April 2024. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Some might say this poster is keeping things a little too simple for a political newcomer: Who dat? What dat? 

Leader Songezo Zibi has the strained expression of someone being forced to launch an OnlyFans account at gunpoint. And there’s something off about the printing of these posters; within a few days of being exposed to the elements, poor Zibi’s face takes on a weird, multihued aspect. Or is that some kind of intentional visual metaphor for the Rainbow Nation?

Rating: 2/5

Songezo Zibi of Rise Mzansi during the launch of the party’s first election posters on 27 February 2024 in Soweto, South Africa. (Photo: Fani Mahuntsi / Gallo Images)

Now we’re cookin’ with gas, Rise Mzansi. This is a great slogan. Who could possibly disagree?

Rating: 4/5

Build One South Africa (Bosa) 

An election poster for the Build One South Africa party in Johannesburg, South Africa, 30 April 2024. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Not to keep objectifying our dignified and hardworking male politicians, but Mmusi Maimane wins the photogenic contest among party leaders by a mile. 

He looks particularly splendid here, in dramatic lighting, rocking a white dress shirt which gives him a slightly priestly air – appropriate for a pastor, albeit one who was accused by the EFF of forging the signatures necessary to register his new party (Bosa strenuously denies the allegations). 

The slogan “A Job in Every Home” is a brilliant nod to a famous political slogan wrongly attributed to US presidential candidate Herbert Hoover in the 1920s: “A chicken in every pot”. Some would say that for Bosa to promise just one job per household is depressingly unambitious, but the truth is that it’s probably depressingly optimistic.

Rating: 4/5

Freedom Front Plus

Election posters for the Freedom Front Plus party in Pretoria, South Africa, 30 April 2024. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg)

It’s amazing how much more appealing this poster is than the DA version, even though it’s playing on a similar sentiment. It’s got a hopeful energy reinforced by its jaunty exclamation marks, which helps to offset the FF+’s unfortunate attachment to a colour palette somewhat reminiscent of the apartheid flag.

Rating: 3/5

Inkatha Freedom Party

IFP poster. (Photo: Rebecca Davis)

This is a disaster. “Trust us” is giving desperate, as the Gen Zs would say. 

And at the risk of being crass – rest in power, Mangosuthu Buthelezi – it features a dead man’s face. Is this a tacit acknowledgement that too few people would be able to pick current IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa out of a police line-up? 

Either way, it’s got to be a bit hurtful for Hlabisa to be so conclusively overshadowed by Buthelezi, even months after he departed this mortal plane.

Rating: 1/5

Good

Good party poster. (Photo: Rebecca Davis)

There’s something weirdly effective about the slogan “Stop the Suffering”, despite its vagueness. Aren’t we all suffering, whether financially or spiritually? 

It’s also a call commonly applied to the bombardment of Gaza, which may well be intentional, given Good’s power base in the Western Cape. 

Patricia de Lille is radiating Earth Mother, and the slogan “switch to GOOD” candidly acknowledges how few previously existing Good voters there are.

Rating 4/5

Patriotic Alliance

Patriotic Alliance poster. (Photo: Rebecca Davis)

Here’s Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie and his soul patch, making seductive eye contact like a man who’s about to suggest a threesome to you at Cubana. (Periodic reminder that McKenzie wrote a self-help book for women about how to win male attention. This is real. I own a copy.) 

This poster cannot be awarded any points at all because of its repugnant slogan “Abahambe”, which means “let them go”, and is a reference to foreigners in South Africa. 

Lowest of the low xenophobic politicking. DM

Rating: 0/5

Gallery

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