Fight for pole position

The DA and IFP share a pole for their positions.

The DA and IFP share a pole for their positions.

Published Apr 14, 2024


Durban — Fix, rescue, renew and save. These are the common themes of most political posters as electioneering moves into overdrive ahead of the May 29 elections.

There may still be a twist in the poster battle: on Friday, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said it had lodged an “urgent and direct” appeal to the Constitutional Court to provide “certainty” on whether Jacob Zuma – the face of the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) – could contest the elections under the banner of MKP.

On Tuesday, the Electoral Court ruled that Zuma was eligible, overturning a decision by the IEC to bar him because of his criminal record for contempt of court.

The body excluded Zuma from the race, saying the constitution barred anyone sentenced to more than 12 months’ imprisonment.

Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in jail in June 2021, but his lawyers argued the sentence did not disqualify him because it followed civil rather than criminal proceedings and it had been shortened by remission. He was freed on medical parole two months into his jail term.

A familiar picture of Jacob Zuma graces the MK Party’s posters, but the IEC yesterday turned to the Constitutional Court to decide if he is eligible to stand.

The electoral commission said on Friday there was “substantial public interest in providing certainty on the proper interpretation” of the constitutional article relating to candidacies of people who have been convicted.

“Such clarity is important in the present matter because of a live issue but also for future elections,” it said.

The IEC has filed its court papers, but a spokeswoman said there was no clarity on when

the Concourt would hear the matter. In eThekwini, parties’ posters are springing up all over in an attempt to sway voters.

The eThekwini Municipality’s Development Planning, Environment and Management Unit is responsible for the regulation of outdoor advertising in the municipality.

According to a council resolution: “For every election period, consideration is given to relaxing some of the requirements in the spirit of promoting democracy.”

Zakhele Ndlovu, a political analyst at the University of KwaZulu-Natal has been monitoring the posters and messages closely.

“The DA talks about rescuing South Africa, basically saying that we are in trouble and we need to be rescued and that the DA is the only party that can help South Africa out of the mess that it is in.

“Then you have the ANC, which basically keeps on saying pretty much the same thing; that’s working together to build a better South Africa. But there’s not much the ANC can say now because it has messed up so badly that it has really run out of things to say.

“I did attend its manifesto launch and the manifesto is pretty much the same as the one unveiled in 2019, if I’m not mistaken,” said Ndlovu.

The Freedom Front Plus says it is time to rebuild.

There are several familiar faces on the posters; the late IFP President Mangosuthu Buthelezi is the face of that party’s campaign in which voters are urged to “do it for Shenge”, which is Buthelezi’s clan name.

Jacob Zuma’s mug, now on an MKP poster, seems to be the same one used by the ANC in its election campaigns. And the EFF uses the face of its leader Julius Malema on its posters.

Ndlovu said the Zuma picture was familiar.

“It’s the exact same picture. And again what has happened with the formation of the MKP is that they’ve given people this false hope that there’s an alternative – an option.

“Whereas in reality, the ANC and MKP, as far as I’m concerned, they are from the same blood, it’s the same party. The MKP is trying to come across as radical, and they’re saying some ridiculous things, like that they want to put traditional leaders in charge.

“They’re very populist. Zuma knows that when he says things like that (about traditional leaders) he is going to appeal to a lot of traditionalists.”

Not much has changed on the ANC’s election poster. Pictures: Shelley Kjonstad Independent Newspapers

Ndlovu said that while many thought the MKP was an alternative to the ANC, it wasn’t.

“What’s going to happen after the election is that the MK Party is going to rescue the ANC. It’s going to keep the ANC in power. We’re talking about parties that are cut from the same cloth. I suspect that the ANC support is going be well below 50% in KZN, and the MKP will come to its rescue.

“I think for Zuma, he started MK because he wants to send a message to President Cyril Ramaphosa, whom he dislikes, that he still has a lot of influence.

“But after the election, I suspect that they will come together and form a coalition.”

Regarding the poster regulations, the eThekwini Municipality said parties were charged for putting up posters and they had a limited time in which to take them down or risk being fined.

Two unlikely bedfellows share a pole.

Municipality spokesperson Gugu Sisilana said a council resolution had determined how election and voter registration posters should be displayed.

She said parties and candidates who wanted to display their advertising had to pay a deposit, which would be held in trust for three months after election day. These funds would be used “to cover any costs incurred by the General Advertising Branch/Department should a party fail to remove its election posters within a required period”.

She said some routes or areas classified as “maximum control” would only be opened for elections-related advertising “on the premise that messaging will be constant and not likely to contribute in causing accidents”.

Other conditions included that there should not be more than two posters per pole of the same party or candidate; no posters are allowed on traffic signs, including traffic lights, directional signs and warning signs, nor on bridges, walls and trees.

“All parties must remove all posters and/or flying banners within 30 days after the May 29 elections.

“The political parties pay R200 per ward and the number of posters is restricted to 800 per ward. In the event of any breach by a party, the municipality (via the Development Planning Unit) will contact the party concerned and the removal of posters will be carried out within two days after the party has been contacted,” Sisilana said.

The late Minority Front leader Amichand Rajbansi used to boast that it was unnecessary for him to campaign for elections because he did it throughout the year when he met with people for “baptisms, births and biryani”.

For the rest though, the fight for pole position remains.

Independent on Saturday