The African National Congress has once again slammed the Democratic Alliance’s “appropriation” of former president Nelson Mandela for its election campaigns.
Gloves came off as the war over the use of struggle hero Mandela’s name intensified, just eight days before South Africans headed to the local government elections.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa on Tuesday said the DA was using Mandela and his legacy callously for their own narrow political gains.
“It is a glaring sign that the DA’s attempts to woo the black electorate are floundering and they will stop at nothing to ‘blackwash’ their chequered history as a whites-only party by thrusting a few token blacks into positions of leadership and appropriating even symbols that have always shunned them,” he said in a statement.
On Monday, the DA launched its new election posters near Union Buildings in Pretoria, calling for South Africans to honour Mandela’s dream by voting for the DA.
Kodwa’s comments follow ANC president Jacob Zuma’s attack on the DA in Nelson Mandela Bay on Saturday, where he referred to the party as the spawn of the apartheid era National Party.
War of words
Zuma slammed the DA for using Mandela, and said they had no heroes of their own. He also called the party “snakes” and described DA leader Mmusi Maimane as an artificial leader who was not listened to by his white followers.
Maimane hit back at Zuma on Sunday, and said the president seemed to miss apartheid.
Maimane said that, under Zuma, the ANC was no longer the party that Mandela had dreamed of, and went on to compare the president to “architect of apartheid” Hendrik Verwoed. He accused Zuma of not honouring Mandela’s legacy.
On Tuesday, Kodwa accused the DA of displaying a shocking form of arrogance and presumptuousness for claiming that Mandela would endorse the party were he still alive.
“Because he was black, they can think for him and show utter disregard for that which he committed himself to.”
He said the the DA was continuing with what their forebears could not finish – “continued attempts to strip Madiba and his family of their sense of dignity and abusing them to further their own agenda”.
‘DA is a haven for racists’
He called the use of Mandela in the DA’s campaigns insensitive to his memory, his family, his organisation, the ANC, and millions of South Africans.
“The DA has been at pains to remind black voters that it is a party founded on the principles of non-racialism, when in fact it is a reconstitution of the National Party, which found refuge in the DA to carry forward the baton of racist oppression under a new guise.
“The ANC reiterates its long-held position that the DA is a haven for racists, and its upper echelons dominated by individuals who hark back to the days of apartheid.”
An angry Maimane quoted several struggle icons – including Mandela, Oliver Tambo, and Steve Biko – on Sunday, and said the ANC no longer represented their dream of bringing South African citizens together.
“Jacob Zuma thinks that black people are not clever. He is no different to what [Hendrik] Verwoed thought about black people. Jacob Zuma does not believe that it is possible for black people to lead white people. In fact, he does not believe that black people and white people can come together,” he said.
Kodwa said they were confident that the public would see the DA for what it was.
“The Trojan Horse of apartheid, draped in the deceptive colours of non-racism.”