The 2019 Elections could well be remembered as the battle of the billboards. Last week, we saw the DA get a lot of stick for their “ANC is killing us” campaign which caused major controversy. However, it seems the ruling party have ruffled a few feathers too.
A billboard placed outside of East London’s Selborne College – with campaign messages such as “the power is in your hands” and “grow South Africa” – appear next to a huge image of Cyril Ramaphosa, encouraging citizens to vote for the president when the ballot boxes open up in May. It all seems pretty innocuous, right? Well, it’s not that simple.
Why the ANC’s East London billboard breaks the rules
The billboard has had to be removed from its location because it’s in direct contravention of the South African Schools Act. Section 33 Part 4 explains that no political propaganda should be on display near a school:
“A school may not allow the display of material of a party-political nature on its premises, unless such party-political material is related to the curriculum at the school.”
DA react to “unacceptable” breach of the law
The billboard is not owned by Selborne College, but it is located on the school’s premises and still has to comply with the provisions set out in the Schools Act. We got in touch with Edmund van Vuuren, who is the shadow MEC for education in the Eastern Cape. He was incensed by the move, which he described as “hypocritical”:
“There is a lot of hypocrisy, here. They are putting a board up at a public school – you do not do that. You can’t use schools as political playgrounds. If they do this, any other political party with the funds can erect these boards on any schools they choose.”
“Parents are then subjected to political campaigning and it’s unacceptable. We will never use a school in this fashion, nor do we visit schools during lesson time as we do not want to disrupt the pupils’ learning.”
Edmund van Vuuren
After registering his complaint with the local authorities, the billboard has since been removed – making the ANC the third major political party to encounter difficulties with a campaign poster this week. As well as the DA’s divisive message, the EFF also saw some of their materials damaged and removed from public view. It really is silly season out here.