The Democratic Alliance has certainly launched a clever billboard campaign in Gauteng. The party, which is fielding national spokesman Mmusi Maimane as its candidate for premier in next year’s elections, got tongues wagging when three provocative billboards were erected in Thursday afternoon – and no-one claimed ownership of the out of home ads.
“E-tolls. Proudly bought to you by the ANC”, the billboards read. The Media Online was alerted to the billboards on Twitter and we immediately asked the DA’s Ian Ollis what was going on. Ollis immediately tweeted us a photograph. “Reporters are telling me that there is one on the N3 near Modderfontein and one on the R21. Haven’t seen myself,” he told us.
Former editor of Rapport and current media manager for the DA in the Western Cape, Liza Albrecht, quickly followed Ollis, and sent us another photograph. We sent on to various people in the out of home media industry to see if they know who owned the billboard, and who had commissioned the ad.
Provantage responded with the information that according to Ollis’ lead, the billboards were owned by Van Till. We asked the company’s Truda du Plessis if she could reveal the client and she kindly sent us to Nu-Venture Media, who promised to contact the client and ask if they would talk to us. No luck there.
Clearly whoever created and paid for the boards was going to control the big reveal themselves. speculation continued. Was it Julius Malema’s EFF? Or AfriForum. Perhaps even Solidariteit? It couldn’t be Cosatu who, much as they oppose e-tolls, wouldn’t directly target the ANC even in these tense times in the tripartite alliance.
In the meantime, there was much huffing and puffing as the ANC spokesman Keith Khoza went on eNCA news, telling the channel the billboards were “unethical”.
“We’ll try to determine whether the matter should be taken up with the IEC or with the relevant authorities in advertising, because we think it’s unethical and we think it shouldn’t be allowed,” Khoza said.
On Sunday, at long last, the DA came clean. Mmusi Maimane – 0n the campaign trail in Gauteng and out to hit the ANC where it hurts – said the message was “100% accurate”. He would “stop e-tolling in its tracks” if elected premier, he said.
“E-tolls were conceived under the watch of an ANC Minister, supported by an ANC executive in Gauteng, passed into law by an ANC majority parliament, and signed, sealed and delivered by an ANC President,” Maimane said in a statement. “So what’s the ANC’s problem with the billboard? Is the ANC ashamed of e-tolls all of a sudden?”
Responding to Khoza’s threat on eNCA to report the billboards to “relevant authorities”, Maimane said, “We say: bring it on. We will defend our right to erect these billboards in any forum the ANC chooses. The ANC is panicking now because it knows that the public don’t want e-tolls. And with good reason: E-tolls will make people poorer and cost jobs,” he said.
President Jacob Zuma recently signed a controversial e-toll bill into law despite on-going legal action to prevent it.