ANC chief whip Stone Sizani on Monday accused the Democratic Alliance (DA) of “conspiring” with the company that erected a giant billboard proclaiming Zuma Must Fall in Cape Town while publicly distancing itself from the act.
Sizani’s office said the vast billboard that has been drawing a media storm since Friday was “sponsored by the privileged and wealthy racists of the DA” in a bid to divert attention from the racism in the opposition party’s ranks.
“The DA has been pulling all the stops to defend and justify racism and promotion of apartheid amongst its membership, and has thus sought to create an expensive stunt to deflect from the negative attention it has been suffering. Any call for the removal of a democratically elected president outside of the provisions of the Constitution is reckless, unlawful and tantamount to inciting political violence.”
It added: “It is clear that there was conspiracy between the DA-governed Metro and the company that put up the illegal banner, with the city turning a blind eye and publicly acting outraged by the illegal erection.”
This was evident in the fact that the City did not dispatch metro police to stop the erection of the billboard, Sizani’s office added.
“The deal between the DA government and the company seems to be that, although the illegal banner would be publicly ‘denounced’ by the City and eventually instruct its removal within a period determined by the City itself, the impact would have been made regardless.”
The DA on Friday denied that it had a hand in the billboard going up.
Industry insiders say it costs roughly R400 000 a month to rent the billboard space
But Sizani said the response from DA leader Mmusi Mainane when further pressed on the issue was as vague as to be “generally understood to be affirmative”, and both the party and the company that put up the billboard knew that the only likely penalty was a fine.
The billboard space at the top of Long Street where the sign towered over its surroundings until it was torn down by angry ANC supporters on Saturday belongs to signage company Independent Outdoor Media, whose owner has not responded to calls and messages.
On Monday the city council said the company would be summonsed for breaking a by-law because the billboard exceeded the allowed size for such structures.
The company has previously landed in trouble with city authorities for putting up posters that exceeded these limits but the matter has never landed in court.
Industry insiders say it costs roughly R400 000 a month to rent the billboard space.
Earlier on Monday, ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said the ruling party was urging all South Africans to “declare war on racism and for political parties to refrain from undermining democracy through calls that undermine a democratic outcome”.
He added: “The uninformed call that President Zuma must fall are a ploy to divert a real conversation on racism that finds expression in the comments of a minority belonging to a particular party that is intent of achieving the impossible return to a racist past.”
The billboard went up a month after activists brandished #ZumaMustFall bannners at Reconciliation Day protests in the city, where race is expected to feature prominently in campaigning for local government elections later this year.
Sizani added that the ANC was not planning to take disciplinary steps against ANC MP Bongani Mkongi for calling on Saturday for the Overbeek apartment building on which the billboard went up to be set alight, as he has since apologised.