Yesterday the DA unveiled their billboard for the 2019 elections – accusing the ANC of killing South Africans.
According to ENCA the billboard, which accused the ANC of being responsible for the Marikana massacre, Life Esidimeni tragedy and pit toilet deaths, was vandalised after it went up.
EWN reports that the ANC has approached the IEC with a complaint over the billboard.
It is unclear exactly what the IEC is supposed to do about it, because electoral law doesn’t cover this sort of thing.
Meanwhile the Citizen reports that Amcu has slammed the billboard, saying “AMCU is extremely disappointed with the DA and its leader, Mmusi Maimane, for utilising a painful part of history as part of their election campaign. We view it as highly opportunistic and totally out of order,” in a statement.
I don’t think the ANC has much of a leg to stand on here.
The police were, and still are, under the ANC’s control – which means that the Marikana massacre was their responsibility.
In 2009 according to IOL Bheki Cele, who was the police commissioner at the time, called for the law to be changed so that police could ‘shoot to kill’.
This was the culture that the police were taking into Marikana, and I can’t help but think it was a big chunk of what happened there – it wasn’t a specific order or plan but rather people who had been whipped to think in a certain way.
And that way of thinking hasn’t really changed that much.
In March of 2018 eNCA reported that Cele, who is now the police minister, felt the police should ignore the human rights of criminals.
“Human rights are for people not for animals, because if you take a gun and plan to go and shoot a police officer who is off duty … then you are not a human,” he said.
So this is a valid gripe to take into the 2019 elections.
With Life Esidimeni, that again was the ANC’s fault and in September of 2018 Business Day reported that the ANC hadn’t learned its lesson.
It had decided not to renew its contract with the Life Esidimeni Kirkwood facility despite the fact that the Eastern Cape’s NGOs cannot handle the 700 patients that were being cared for there.
This is a valid gripe to take into 2019.
We then turn to the pit toilets situation, and David Mabuza, the deputy president, has been accused by the New York Times, one of the most reputable newspapers in the world, of diverting funds from schools in Mpumalanga to buy favours within the ANC.
It is, again, a valid gripe.
To say that the DA shouldn’t use a painful episode of our history in its politicking, well there are few parts of our history more painful than Apartheid and the ANC has been quite happy to use that since 1994.
And these issues are not just issues of the past, but things which speak to what is happening right now.
So why is it that even with all of this, I also feel uncomfortable with that poster, like this is quite a sleazy move?
Would the Marikana miners have endorsed the DA? Do the survivors support the DA? Did the DA get the permission of the families of any of the people who died in these events?
Shortly after the Marikana massacre the DA memorialised the dead with crosses marking where each of those killed by the police fell.
“In our culture, going to a place where people died without the permission of the families of the deceased shows lack of respect. Residents did right by removing the crosses,” Andile Yawa, whose 24-year-old mineworker son Cebisile was among those killed told Times LIVE at the time.
The facts do not paint the ANC in a positive light, but at the same time the DA cannot claim an endorsement here, and that’s kind of what they’re ending up doing.
Vote DA in memory of these people who very likely weren’t DA supporters, vote DA in sympathy with their families who very likely don’t support the DA.
If the DA got one of the survivors of the massacre to make the same argument regarding Marikana then it would be powerful, if it got a family member of one of those who died through Life Esidimeni then that would be powerful, and the same thing with regards to the pit toilets.
But they didn’t, they just put up a poster, which makes the whole thing feel more like exploiting a cause rather than championing it.
And it also isn’t good campaigning. All that I take out of that poster is don’t vote ANC, but that doesn’t necessarily mean vote DA – one could just as easily vote EFF, or Cope, or UDM or any of our many other options in this next election.
The DA isn’t the only other party one can vote for, and it needs to make a case for itself, not just against the ANC, if it hopes to win at some point. Every election cycle we get the same thing from the DA – “Stop the ANC”. Well that doesn’t necessarily mean “Start the DA”.