The DAs Gauteng premier candidate and spokesman, Mmusi Maimane, stars in the party's Ayisafani advert. Screengrab: YouTube

Johannesburg - The content of the DA's election campaign advertisements is legitimate and should be aired, the party's legal team said on Tuesday.

Steven Budlender, for the Democratic Alliance, said the SABC was rejecting legitimate criticism by barring the advertisements.

Budlender was addressing members of the Complaints and Compliance Committee at the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) headquarters in Sandton, north of Johannesburg.

He said criticising others was the very nature of political debate.

He was responding to one of the grounds the public broadcaster listed as reasons for not airing six of the party's advertisements.

The DA laid a complaint with Icasa on Saturday after the SABC failed to broadcast its election advertisement.

The “Ayisafani” advert was pulled off the air last week, along with four radio advertisements.

The advert in question shows the DA's Gauteng premier candidate and spokesman, Mmusi Maimane, standing in front of a mirror talking about the current state of the country. He says life today is better than it was 20 years ago and gives credit to great leaders who he believes have taken the country forward.

“But since 2008 we've seen President Jacob Zuma's ANC. An ANC that is corrupt. An ANC for the connected few. An ANC that is taking us backwards. An ANC where more than 1.4 million people have lost jobs.” Maimane then asks Zuma where the jobs are.

The SABC did not broadcast the advertisement and gave the DA a letter. In it, SABC acting group CEO Tian Olivier informed the party that it would not be able to broadcast the advert on radio or television as it incited violence. The SABC said the party could submit an amended version of the advertisement.

In the letter to the party, the SABC said the advertisements would not be aired on four grounds Ä that one of the adverts incited violence, that some gave false allegations about members of other political parties, that according to the Advertising Standards Authority one product could not attack another to promote itself and that no advert could attack specific candidates or a person directly.

Part of the television advert shows an image of a police official pointing a firearm at a civilian, with a voice over saying “we have seen police kill citizens”.

Budlender said the advert was not inciting violence because it was not a call to arms, but rather a call to vote for the DA.

He said there were many media reports which had discussed police violence including the death of protester Andries Tatane in the Free State and two protesters in Mothotlung, North West.

Regarding the ASA code, Budlender said the code did not apply to political adverts.

“ASA has no jurisdiction over political ads during elections... It is irrelevant to non-commercial adverts.”

He said the SABC said in its letter of rejection, that it did not permit personal attacks on any member of a party, like the DA had done on President Jacob Zuma.

“The SABC doesn't justify its stance. It has no regulation to back that up.”

As a state organ it did not have authority to make such a decision on its own.

“It is not valid as a matter of law,” Budlender said.

The CCC - established in terms of the Icasa Act, is an independent statutory body empowered to adjudicate, hear and make a finding on all matters referred to it, not only by the authority, but also by the public.

DA leader Helen Zille and the SABC's acting COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng were present at the hearing.