The Democratic Alliance (DA) didn’t exactly cover itself in glory with its alarmist SMS campaign – over voter registration weekend – which claimed that the ANC and the EFF would unite to seize people’s houses and private property.
The party defended the campaign, despite the lack of evidence to back up its doomsday predictions. EFF leader Julius Malema has said the opposite: that people need not fear their houses being taken away by the state.
The ANC has, likewise, said the expropriation of land without compensation will focus on unused land in rural areas and that there is no intention to extend it to private home in cities and towns.
Now, of course, one may characterise both the EFF and the ANC as liars, or racists – or both. But the reality is that, on the evidence of what they have said, currently, there is no basis for the DA campaign.
And while one expects political parties to use vigorous tactics in their campaigning, one would have expected more from a party birthed in liberalism and committed to the ideals of truth, fairness and, even more important, privacy.
That respect for privacy is something conspicuously absent in the way the party sent out its intrusive SMSes … without permission. And, to add further insult, it insists on having your ID number details before it removes you from its database.
Worst of all, though, is the fact that the DA is held in high regard by its suburban, middle-class constituents, as well as outsiders. What the party says carries a lot of weight.
What if South Africans now start to panic and sell their houses? Will that precipitate a property market slump? If the DA is terrified about security of property rights, won’t that scare away international investors too?
An organisation of the DA’s stature needs to act with more responsibility.