SA capital advert row sparks ad-alert threat

The Tshwane Metro Council could be slapped with an advertising ban.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has informed AfriForum, the civil rights authority established by Solidarity, that all Tshwane Metro Council advertisements will be prohibited unless the council pays for ads in which the ASA explains that the public has been misled by the council's advertising campaign which refers to Tshwane, and not Pretoria, as "capital" of South Africa.

The payment for advertisements by the council admitting it has misled the public is part of a ruling made by the ASA at the end of last year in favour of AfriForum.

In a recent letter to AfriForum, the ASA said: "In the event that the advertiser refuses to pay we shall issue an ad-alert to all our members, instructing them not to accept any advertising at all from the City of Tshwane."

Tshwane Metro Council spokesperson Richard Mkholo said the council had taken note of the ASA's decision and referred it to its legal department. "We are also engaging the Ministry of Arts and Culture on the matter," he said.

The ASA justified the move by pointing out that the council had "a history of transgressions of the advertising code" and had to date "blatantly" ignored ASA rulings.

This ruling followed a protracted battle of 18 months between the legal teams of AfriForum and the Tshwane Metro Council before the ASA.

Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, said the Tshwane Metro Council would hinder its own functioning and disadvantage the public if it refused to pay for advertising which points out that Tshwane is not the capital's name. "The council will, among other things, no longer be allowed to publish any council notices in the media, nor advertise positions - without which effective service delivery will be impossible," Kriel said.

It would be irresponsible of the council not to publish the required advertisements because of its ideologically and politically driven efforts to dispose of the name of Pretoria, he said.

The use since 2000 of the name Pretoria for the city and Tshwane for the municipality is, according to Kriel, a win-win solution which provides a compromise on the name of the area.

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