Parties are fighting it out for pole position

Election postersin Halt Road, Elsiesriver as the country prepares for the elections to be held on May 29. Picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

Election postersin Halt Road, Elsiesriver as the country prepares for the elections to be held on May 29. Picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

Published May 23, 2024


Cape Town - The Battle of the Poles will soon come to an end when most South Africans cast their ballots, but for political parties getting their messages out on to the streets it has been an expensive exercise.

According to some, election posters which are mostly hung from street lamp posts can cost about R25 each, obviously depending on size and quality. A good quality poster might cost a political party close to R70.

RISE Mzansi, which secured close to R17 million in funding less than a year after its formation, said if they had more money, they would have more posters.

“But our presence of posters in villages, towns and cities in all nine provinces speaks to the dedication of our organisers, volunteers and supporters, who have found a home in RISE Mzansi, a political party and movement that places people and their dignity at the centre of its politics,” said Mabine Seabe, the party’s spokesperson.

“The challenges we have had are around intimidation from other political parties and law enforcement. Our posters are removed and stolen on a daily basis, but it speaks to the impact RISE Mzansi is making in communities,” said Seabe.

The United Independent Movement (UIM) said that with extremely limited funds and funding, it has been challenging to “fully capitalise” on a poster or visual marketing campaign.

“The acquisition of the very limited supply we managed to put up was not a problem. Quite a few printing companies contacted us, offering their services when the official campaigning started. Obviously, the weather played a major part in many of not only ours but other parties’ posters being destroyed and ripped from poles, especially in the Western Cape,” said UIM Secretary-General Jacques Taljaard.

“That’s not to even mention the ones that get vandalised or removed from poles and areas where they were put up. As far as effectiveness is concerned, I would say it probably contributes to less than 5% of a party’s eventual success. It looks good visually, but by the time they are put up, most people have already decided who to vote for.”

Zackie Achmat, who is contesting as an independent candidate in the Western Cape, said: “We budgeted approximately R12m for the campaign and have to date managed to raise about R7.5m. However, this is not enough to run against political parties that are well established as independent candidates.

“Posters were a key campaigning tool for the Zackie 2024 campaign to create public visibility,” said Alma Viviers, Achmat’s communications manager. “During the course of the campaign, we launched four separate poster campaigns. In November 2023, we launched our signature collection campaign with 300 A2 posters.

“At the time, unlike political parties, independent candidates had to pay the City of Cape Town an outdoor advertising fee beyond just printing and flying (erecting on street poles), which meant a massive additional cost for the small campaign budget (an additional R20.95 a poster with a once-off fee of R950).

“Since independent candidates will only have a photo on the ballot and not also a logo like parties, it was very important that we got Zackie’s face out there.

Speaking to the effectiveness of posters, Achmat said: “Even just making them around the city, people now recognise me.”

According to Viviers, as an independent candidate in the Western Cape, Achmat must secure nearly 100 000 votes in the next general election to win a seat in the National Assembly.

“This province has about 3 million registered voters. Zackie 2024 must reach a significant number of these voters. To put a flyer in every registered voter’s hand, to hang posters, organise meetings, forums and events, and compete for visibility with other parties costs millions of rand.”

Fadiel Adams from the National Coloured Congress said: “Our posters are purchased by our members. It costs about R25 a poster. The hanging isn’t an issue, but we find that parties that see us as competition are tearing down our posters.”

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Cape Argus