DA document prompts ANC riposte

By Drum Digital
19 April 2013

As political parties stock their campaign armouries ahead of next year's general elections, an early war of words and pictures has broken out between the ruling ANC and the opposition DA.

It was sparked by the latest addition to the Democratic Alliance's election stockpile -- a draft campaign document designed to "expose how the ANC and NP [the former apartheid-era National Party] governments run in parallel".

Details of the document were revealed by the Mail & Guardian newspaper on Friday, under the headline "The ANC is just like the Nats -- DA".

This, together with an image lifted from a DA internal power-point presentation, titled "The ANC Of Today" and showing the ANC's logo with the colours changed from black, green and gold, to orange, white and blue, the colours of the old National Party, has provoked a sharp response from the African National Congress.

A copy of the altered image, which DA communications director Gavin Davis told Sapa on Friday "has nothing to do with our 'Know Your DA' campaign", was displayed on the M&G's front page.

In a statement on Friday, ANC national spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the opposition party had stooped to another low.

"The Democratic Alliance has stooped to its latest lows with the blatant distortion of the African National Congress and its insignia in their desperate campaign for legitimacy and relevance."

The ANC logo was a symbol of hope and progressive thinking, and occupied a special place in the hearts of the majority of South Africans.

"Changing the colours... to the colours of the apartheid regime is an insult to not only the organisation, but the efforts of the African majority to build social cohesion and reconciliation in this country," he said.

Comparing the ANC to the NP was not only disingenuous, it was also not factual.

"History can in fact prove that those who today compare us to the National Party, they themselves were part of the SA Defence Force that killed our people."

According to the M&G report, the DA draft document states that the longer the ANC governs, the stronger the parallels between it and the NP will become to that "which we had hoped would never happen again".

The document reportedly compares the levels of police violence and the use of legislation to suppress democracy and personal freedom under both governments.

It also focuses on what it calls "the rise of Zulu nationalism and racist rhetoric under the ANC government".

Further, it draws parallels between the killing of 34 mineworkers by police in Marikana last year and the Sharpeville massacre, when apartheid police opened fire in 1960 on a crowd of black people, killing 69.

Mthembu said the ANC would respond to such "spurious allegations" in the party's engagements with its supporters.

"The African National Congress continues to uphold the highest values of a free, transparent, and democratic country, which cannot be comparable to the erstwhile apartheid system.

"The people of South Africa know the history of this country, its struggles, and their leaders. It is quite clear that the Democratic Alliance has run out of ideas with which to appeal to the electorate and in their desperation have morphed into clowns."

He said the DA's "latest publicity stunt" offered no genuine basis to build a South Africa that belonged to all who lived in it.

DA national spokesman Mmusi Maimane, in an interview also published in the M&G on Friday, said the party was "aiming for 30 percent" of the vote in the 2014 elections.

It received 16 percent in the last general elections.

Asked why the DA election strategy was focusing on discrediting the ANC, and if this might not backfire, Maimane said his party had launched its Know Your DA campaign "and didn't mention the ANC at all".

"Instead, there are people who are peddling lies that the DA will bring back apartheid if it is voted into power. This is untrue."

On the provinces the DA was planning to take over in 2014, he said: "We are going to work hard to take over Gauteng and the Northern Cape."

The DA was also going to consolidate its support in the Western Cape, which it took from the ANC in the 2009 elections.

Earlier this week, a DA pamphlet showing Nelson Mandela hugging former liberal politician Helen Suzman, with the words "We played our part in opposing apartheid", angered ANC Western Cape chairman Marius Fransman, who described it as a "cynical and opportunistic exercise in propaganda".

The ANC said neither Mandela nor Suzman were ever members of the DA.

Responding, the DA said Mandela was a global icon and Suzman was a member of a predecessor party of the DA.

-by Sapa

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