Battle over election campaigns hots up

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The ANC has developed a manifesto which contains coherent, realistic and achievable proposals to move South Africa forward, says the writer. File picture: Phil Magakoe

Cape Town - As election campaigning enters its final stretch, the country’s main rivals are at each other’s throats over campaigning techniques and posters.

The DA has to respond by noon today to the ANC’s demand that an anti-employment equity pamphlet published last week be withdrawn from circulation.

In addition, the DA is awaiting a ruling from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) over the SABC’s censorship of its “Ayisafani” advertising campaign.

The DA received a letter from the ANC’s legal team on Friday demanding that the pamphlet, with its slogan “the ANC wants to stop you getting a job, or promotion” and that new regulations would “prevent thousands of coloured people in the Western Cape from getting jobs” be immediately removed from circulation.

The ANC said the leaflet was in violation of the Electoral Act and the Electoral Code of Conduct.

Under the draft employment equity legislation, companies with more than 150 employees would have to use the national economically active population demographics to determine the equity targets of their top and senior management as well as their professionally qualified staff.

The DA argues that this would clash with provincial racial demographics and marginalise certain race groups from the workforce in the Western Cape.

ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile said the DA’s pamphlet clearly showed what the party was prepared to do to maintain power.

“They want to maintain the status quo – basically, it reflects apartheid-era thinking. They don’t care about the facts, but instead are hell-bent on racial mobilisation,” Mjongile said.

In its lawyer’s letter, the ANC stated that the allegations “are clearly geared to divide communities on racial lines and cause serious discontent amongst members of various communities”.

Songezo alluded to the DA’s use of apartheid government tactics to create “swart gevaar” in voters to move votes away from the ANC.

Geordin Hill-Lewis, chief of staff for DA leader Helen Zille, is adamant the DA will not comply with the ANC’s request. “Our lawyers will be replying tomorrow, but rest assured we will not be repealing the pamphlet, not at all.”

The DA’s counsel in turn submitted its argument to Icasa in an attempt to fight the SABC’s censorship of its “Ayisafani” adverts.

The adverts were removed first from television stations and then from radio stations across the country.

The DA denied the SABC’s allegations that the references to police brutality were inciting people to violence.

It also addressed assertions that the mention of Nkandla was false and there were personal, unsubstantiated attacks on President Jacob Zuma.

Zille said the SABC was violating the party’s right to freedom of speech and that the decision was unconstitutional and illegal.

“The reasons provided by the SABC for their decision are utterly illegitimate,” said Zille. “They did not pass the test of basic reason and make clear the SABC’s real intention of protecting the ANC and President Zuma from legitimate criticism or political competition.”

Zille added: “The effect of their censorship is to undermine the free choice of voters in a democratic election by preventing the DA from communication with voters through television and radio.”

Hill-Lewis said: “The DA will not back down, because this is a democratic election. The SABC was just trying to protect the ANC because they’re nervous about the polls and how well the DA is doing.”

Recently the DA threatened legal action against the Al Jama-ah party for printing an election pamphlet calling on voters not to vote for the DA because it was a “Zionist-funded” party.

In the pamphlet Al Jama-ah warns that “a vote for Zionist-funded Helen Zille of the DA is a betrayal of the Palestinian struggle”.

Cape Argus


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