At the DA’s final election rally in Soweto, Gauteng, on Saturday, leader Mmusi Maimane continued the party’s campaigning line that former president Nelson Mandela would have been a DA supporter were he still alive today.
This despite the fact that Mandela once said the party only used blacks as “stooges”.
Maimane was of the opinion that much had changed since then and the values of the DA were now more closely aligned to what Madiba had espoused than what the ANC has now become. Maimane told the crowd in Soweto that he had himself once been an ANC supporter and voted for Mandela, but he had to change his mind and join the DA after the ANC lost its way with alleged nepotism, corruption, poor governance, legislative proposals that impinged on the constitution and a general culture of protecting President Jacob Zuma at all costs, even if it hurt the country.
He made several references to Mandela, and the party has even used the former statesman in its TV advertising and street pole posters.
Maimane added that Zuma and his government govern “as if black people and black lives don’t matter”.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and other party bigwigs, however, hit back on Sunday, accusing the DA of major plagiarism.
Speaking to eNCA at the Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg, where the Siyanqoba rally was taking place, Mantashe said that “you must always remember the theory of cause and effect. If you are a DA, you are blue, and you are going to tell all over the world that Mandela is a friend of the DA … obviously somebody must clarify that issue, that Mandela was never a friend of the DA. He has always been in the opposition to the DA. Even when he was president.
“Now, when you distort history, it must be corrected. That is not negativity. Negativity is plagiarism … when you steal the original symbols and personalities of another party, and you use it in your party.”
He wanted to know why the DA did not use anyone from a long list of people who had led the party in the past.
“Why don’t you use them? They are your leaders.”
He said that, to him, the answer was that the DA was actually tacitly admitting that the ANC, its history and its leaders was “correct, and the ANC has a clear policy, a clear programme and a track record”.
In response to a challenge that the DA was setting the election tone, Mantashe said: “No, they stole Mandela. They didn’t set the tone.”