By: Zaahidah Meyer
The Democratic Alliance (DA)’s new election billboard has raised the ire of the public, with some saying the party is desperate to win over voters ahead of the upcoming elections. On Wednesday, the opposition party led by Mmusi Maimane revealed the new election billboard in Gauteng, slandering the African National Congress (ANC) by accusing them of being “murderers.”
The unveiling showed a massive slogan saying “The ANC is killing us” with the names of the Life Esidimeni victims, Marikana massacre victims and the names of the children who died after falling into pit latrine toilets.
Despite the ecstasy DA members and supporters felt at the unravelling, many others found the campaign “distasteful and tactless.”
One of the Life Esidimeni victims’ family member Christine Nxumalo said the families felt very sad in the manner in which the DA decided to host their campaign.
“They did not consult nor discuss it with us. If this means getting votes for them, they are really not paying their respects but rather just doing what’d get them those votes. We are not at all pleased at the stance that they took,” said an irked Nxumalo.
When discussing whether this campaign was a way of covering their own “faults”, Nxumalo said there is a lot of things the DA tends to overlook.
“If you want to be taken seriously as a party or an organization and you say you are for the people, then the best thing to do is actually act in the interests of the people and not against it. This entire process that they have undertaken certainly does not take the feelings, pain and grieving process into account,” said Nxumalo.
Nxumalo added that it is all good and well that the DA is able to criticize the ANC but going as far as bringing up tragedies for their own gain is distasteful and reeks of desperation.
When asked if this campaign was the DA’s way of using the ANC “faults” to cover up their own issues, DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said this was “absolute nonsense.”
Malatsi said this campaign was aimed at holding the ANC government accountable “for its actions in government and for its failure to protect its citizens.”
When discussing whether the campaign took into account the grieving families of the victims, Malatsi said the DA has not done anything that has not been done and that all names of those deceased have previously been published.
“It is the ANC government that killed people in Marikana and it is the ANC government that led to the loss of life of patients of Life Esidimeni,” said Malatsi.
The leader of the opposition in the City of Cape Town Council Xolani Sotashe said the DA does not have anything to prove to South Africans as an alternative in terms of governance.
“It’s clear that the DA is being stripped naked and they don’t have any strategy except to attack the ANC. The fact that they can stoop so low and use the grief of people to campaign for elections is despicable, uncalled for and inhumane,” said an irate Sotashe.
Sotashe further added that the DA has been unmasked and has no place to hide anymore.
“They’ve been going around the country saying they will run clean governance. This city (Cape Town) is falling apart because of corruption and maladministration. They now resort to very dubious tactics,” Sotashe said.
Sotashe went on to say that similar tactics were used during the apartheid regime.
“How can you use the grief of people to lure in votes for your party? It’s not African and never heard of. It is time people start seeing the DA for what it is. It’s a party without morals.”
The Life Esidimeni scandal left 143 psychiatric patients dead after government terminated a contract with Life Esidimeni, in an attempt to save money. Around 1 300 people were transferred to family care, non-governmental organizations and various other hospitals. This resulted in poor healthcare including starvation, dehydration, hypothermia, and neglect. The case has been called “the greatest cause of human rights violation” in democratic South Africa and in March last year, the government was ordered to pay each family R1.2 million.
In the North West province in 2012, mineworkers protested for a salary increase at the Lonmin platinum mine. The strike turned volatile after the mineworkers received no support from their unions. The situation quickly escalated, after police fired live ammunition at protesters, killing 34 and leaving 78 severely wounded. Police claimed to have been acting in self-defence despite not one SAPS (South African Police Service) member being killed or injured. A great number of those killed had been shot in the back.
Delays in service delivery and the removal of pit toilets from schools have long been a contentious issue. Many children have fallen to their death in these pit latrines, with slow progress being made in its removals. President Cyril Ramaphosa last year said the focus should be placed on what was not achieved rather than what was.
The ANC will now consider taking the matter to The Independent Electoral Commission’s Electoral Court.