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DA can’t back up claims, report finds

Cape Town - Claims made by the DA on Twitter about service delivery and job creation cannot be substantiated, according to a report published on Tuesday.

Website AfricaCheck, which fact-checks claims made by politicians, organisations and the media, found the DA could not back up several claims it made on social media.

Website AfricaCheck, which fact-checks claims made by politicians, organisations and the media, found the DA could not back up several claims it made on social media. Credit: TWITTER

The claims made on the DA’s Twitter account include that the party’s municipalities had created 31 000 “job opportunities” in the past year, and that the city “delivers more to poor residents than any other city in the country”.

When veteran journalist Ray Joseph took the matter up, DA spokesman Zak Mbhele was unable to track down sources to back up the claims.

He wrote to Joseph: “Concerning the job opportunity figures, no one so far can give me anything concrete.

“I must say that this exercise has been very useful on my side in identifying a clear systemic deficiency of information management.”

The DA regularly publishes updates, pictures and claims from the handle @DA_News to 60 000 followers.

All DA accounts use hashtags to spark conversation and interaction among their online following. One of these, #DAdelivers, was used to publicise many of the service delivery claims that could not be substantiated.

Mbhele told the Cape Argus the figures relating to delivery in the Western Cape came from various documents, such as the Statistics SA census 2011 report, the UN State of World Cities report and national and provincial government reports.

“The only area in which there was difficulty was in obtaining a time-specific set of figures for Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) job opportunities created by the government in the Western Cape. The figures for the first half of 2012/13 are available on the national Department of Public Works’ EPWP website, but not those for the second half. Reference documents for all other facts and figures requested which relate to Western Cape government delivery were sent to AfricaCheck,” he said.

While the unsubstantiated claims may set alarm bells ringing, they are not illegal in electioneering terms.

According to Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) spokeswoman Kate Bapela, the Electoral Code of Conduct regulates what is legal on the campaign trail. However, the code will be signed only in March by parties contesting the elections.

The code prohibits parties from publishing “false or defamatory allegations”.

According to the AfricaCheck report, unsubstantiated claims by the DA include:

Find the original report by Ray Joseph at www.africacheck.org.

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