Tue. May 28th, 2024

South Africa’s main opposition party is facing criticism over an election advert in which the national flag is seen engulfed in fire.

Launched on Sunday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) campaign message has been published on various social media platforms.

Burning the flag is not illegal in South Africa, but some want the advert withdrawn, alleging it is offensive to destroy a symbol of unity.

But the DA has defended it, saying it wanted to highlight its argument that the country is in trouble.

In the advert, as the flag is depicted going up in flames a voice-over warns “life will only get worse” under the African National Congress (ANC), which has been in power since 1994.

The burning of the flag is then reversed as the speaker urges voters to support the DA.

“This election is about survival,” it ends as the flag is replenished and returns to its original form.

The general election is just over three weeks away and opinion polls indicate that the ANC could lose its majority in parliament for the first time in the country’s democratic era.

In his campaigning, President Cyril Ramaphosa has acknowledged that there are problems, but he has also emphasised the transformation that the country has made in the last three decades.

The ANC led the struggle against white-minority rule and the legalised form of racial discrimination known as apartheid.

“South Africans are more educated, empowered and healthier than they were under apartheid,” Mr Ramaphosa has said, urging people not to threaten that progress.

The DA advert has angered some South Africans who accuse the party of desecrating the flag to highlight challenges faced by citizens.

“The burning of our flag is ill-advised. Seems to show disrespect and disloyalty to the flag, which to many of us is more than a flag but a symbol of triumph against apartheid,” former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela posted on X.

Other social media users are calling the DA to withdraw the “ill-considered” advert, saying the party had a responsibility beyond winning elections.

Addressing the media on Sunday, DA leader John Steenhuisen said the advert was a “symbolic representation of the future that awaits South Africa if people do not vote for the DA”.

“This is our fourth advert, and nobody has commented on the others, which surprises me,” DA official Ashor Sarupen told the Daily Maverick news website.

South African foreign office official Clayson Monyela said the public outrage against the advert was “fully justified”, warning that it could “discourage voters and fuel apathy”.

By Joy

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