The SABC ban of a TV commercial produced by the Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s opposition party, has been labeled blatant censorship and probably illegal after the TV election ad was deleted yesterday. But within 24 hours of the South African Broadcasting Company’s (SABC) notice that it was removing the commercial from its airwaves, the ad went viral on social media with supporters posting the video on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. The DA maintains that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is behind the ban, and as the video increasingly goes viral, has stated the ad is making a “big impact” on the party’s election campaign.
Mmusi Maimane, (above) the DA’s candidate for premier in Gauteng stars in the election ad, saying that while there have been “some great leaders” that have taken South Africa forward, since 2008 the country has “seen” a corrupt government led by President Jacob Zuma. “It is an ANC that is taking us backwards,” he says, drawing attention to the great Nkandla scandal that has cost taxpayers R200 million (more than $19 million) upgrading the president’s private property in KwaZulu-Natal. A violent image of an uniformed officer shooting at a man has the commentary, “We have seen a police force killing our own people.” He goes on to refer to the more than 1.4 million people who have lost their jobs.
Maimane ends the commercial using a term that infers the ANC is not exactly what it was in the past – Ayisafani. He says, “The ANC Ayisafani. Together we can bring hope. Together we can allow an environment that gets jobs. Together we can bring change for all South Africans.”
The commercial was booked with the SABC and eNCA, a privately owned TV channel that continues to broadcast the election ad without any possible threat of censorship, and paid for by the DA. When the commercial was removed from SABC channels, Maimane immediately issued a statement via the DA that the reasons were “spurious, and almost certainly illegal.” The “unavoidable conclusion” was that the SABC had been pressured to remove the commercial, he said, adding that it was a known fact that the ANC is “worried about the hugely positive response” generated by the DA’s TV election commercial.
As the TV election ad goes viral on social media after the SABC ban, the DA has made it available for download and viewing on its Facebook page. It is impossible to estimate exactly how many people have shared it so far, but by Saturday at least 100,000 people had shared directly from the DA FB page, and the election commercial continues to appear all over Facebook and is also being shared via Twitter.
Meanwhile the DA has announced that it will fight the “censorship” and states that it has already briefed its lawyers who will approach the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), the body that regulates SA communications and advertising. “We are confident ICASA will dismiss the SABC’s censorship and reinstate the commercial immediately,” Maimane said yesterday.
South African voters go to the polls on May 7, 20 years after the country’s first democratic elections. Jobs are a crucial issue and one that is being highlighted by both the ruling party (ANC) and official opposition (DA). The ANC has stated that “poverty, inequality and unemployment” are the biggest threats that face the country, and has promised it will create 6 million job “opportunities” in the next five years, mostly for young people. The DA has promised it will create the same number of jobs, but maintains they will be “real and permanent” jobs, in addition to 7 million public works-related job opportunities, and 1 million internships for people who are actively looking for work.
On its website,the DA looks at the history of the SABC that was a well-known “propaganda machine” during South Africa’s apartheid government era. In those days it was up to the SABC to ensure that South African citizens only saw and heard what the government wanted them to see and hear. When the “struggle triumphed” the SABC was liberated. So why, the party asks, is it once again becoming a tool that is manipulated by the ruling party?
Following ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe’s instruction that “President Zuma must be protected at all costs because he is the symbol of the ANC,” the SABC is, says the DA, doing just this. The SABC is defending the president by “falling inline with this instruction.” If there was an SABC ban it would follow the same procedure.
The controversial DA ANC Ayisafani television commercial was launched last week. It was, according to the DA, designed to illustrate how the ANC has changed under the current president. It was also designed to show that the ANC is no longer a democratic party and that it does not comply with the Constitution. The DA maintains that the ANC under Zuma exists to protect Zuma and a few other connected people who have positions, tenders, contracts and wealth as a result of his position of power.
The DA maintains that the fact the SABC has censored their TV election ad proves that the ANC is “in a panic.” Support for the ANC they say is plummeting because the DA has such an effective election campaign. Ultimately, the DA says, the SABC has gone back to the job it was doing in the apartheid era – what the ruling party says it must do.
They have censored the advert because every word of it is true, and that terrifies them. DA
According to several reports, the decision to ban the DA commercial was taken by the Chief Operating Officer of the SABC, Hlaudi Motseneng who has been implicated in maladministration and other major issues. One major matter is that the country’s Public Protector has found that he has lied about his qualifications.
Ultimately, the DA has stated that it will “act swiftly” to ensure that the SABC’s censorship decision in terms of their TV election ad, is overturned next week. If this does not happen, the party has said it will not hesitate to go to court and defend their rights “to speak truth to power, and the voter’s right to hear differing views in a democratic election.” While the DA video goes viral on social media after the SABC ban, the official opposition party remains determined to fight the fight, not only to overturn the SABC censorship decision, but also to win votes from the ruling party in next month’s election.
By Penny Swift