Before yesterday, few people had taken notice of an election advert by Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). But by last night, it had been viewed almost 25 000 times on YouTube. How did Malema pull this off? The Media Online reports.
Over the long weekend, Malema’s spokespeople announced that he and his Central Command Team would address the media on Tuesday morning. The reason for the briefing was not stated in the invitation. Journalists flocked to the event, and sat through progress updates on the EFF
elections campaign and complaints about “political intolerance against the EFF“.
But the aspect that made the news headlines — Malema accusing the SABC of “banning” its election advert, an advert that has up to that point not drawn much attention.
“This advert was supposed to have been aired on the 20 April, 2014 but was not, because the SABC has taken a decision to ban it,” said Malema. “EFF has as a result launched an urgent complaint with Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) against the SABC decision. The EFF will take legal action against the SABC and will roll mass action on 29 April, 2013 until our advert is aired as its banning is a clear violation of the freedom of expression.”
Of course this attracted attention, considering that the Democratic Alliance went through a similar exercise last week — and won. After complaining to Icasa, SABC agreed to air the main opposition’s election advertisement, said the DA.
Suddenly, the EFF advert made news headlines, was tweeted and retweeted, and viewed, and viewed again, on YouTube, and — perhaps even better — partially broadcast on eNCA news bulletins.
@MyNews24 tweeted mid-afternoon: “The EFF’s banned TV advert has gone viral, with over 20 000 views.”
But SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago seemed unfazed. Contacted by The Media Online for comment, he said: “The SABC took the decision to reject the ad amongst other reasons, as there is a clear incitement to violence in the ad, with the statement ‘Destroy e-tolls physically’ and this statement in our view is promoting a criminal activity, which is not permitted in terms of the Icasa Regulations on PEB’s. Icasa has been informed.”
Malema would disagree. He told journalists: “The banning of this advert is a clear indication of the ruling party’s refusal for eTolls to be on the agenda of these elections. SABC, which reports to Luthuli house has acted in the interests of their wishes to suppress the fact that the ruling party imposed e -tolls on South Africans.
“Nonetheless, we reiterate without any fear of contradiction that we shall physically destroy eTolls to allow South Africans to use their roads without paying any additional money to the tax they already give to government.
“The advert must be aired on SABC television to allow voters to know this so that they make an informed choice about who should govern, particularly in Gauteng,” said Malema.
The advert itself starts with a woman identified as Zameka Nungu, saying to the camera: “I was heartbroken when my husband lost his life. He was shot and killed by the police while the whole world was watching. What has become of this world?”
This is followed by pictures of policemen shooting at civilians, and a picture of white crosses at Marikana, headlined in big, bold words in red: “GIVE JUSTICE TO MARIKANA”. Then Malema himself appears, dressed in a black suit, white shirt and black tie, saying: “Vote for economic freedom in our lifetime. Let us restore the dignity of the African child.”
After this, pictures of EFF posters appear, with slogans saying: “Lets stop Nkandla corruption — Vote EFF”, “Increase Social Grants by 100%, Child Grant R600 and Old Aged Grant R2600 — Vote EFF”, and then — the dealbreaker, according to SABC — “Destroy E-TOLLS PHYSICALLY! — Vote
It is now up to Icasa to decide how to handle the matter; according to its regulations, the authority has 48 hours to respond to a complaint.
Either way, it is probably safe to say the EFF has gained the publicity it had hoped for.