News / South Africa

Yadhana Jadoo
3 minute read
26 Jan 2017
6:06 am

‘Black ops’ electioneering not going anywhere – analysts

Yadhana Jadoo

Analysts argued that as the ANC became more desperate to retain power, underhanded tactics would increase.

FILE PICTURE: African National Congress (ANC) supporters. Picture: Michel Bega

As more allegations surface about an ANC campaign to discredit opposition parties during the 2016 municipal elections, analysts say that more of these “political shenanigans” can be expected.

Voters, therefore, needed to be very “vigilant” in analysing the electioneering they were presented with, political analyst Daniel Silke said.

“As we get into a more competitive political climate and the ANC feels more threatened at polls, it is possible that election time can become a lot more creative and underhanded. As the ANC battles to retain its current level of support, we are more likely to see a degree of political shenanigans. This is not going away.”

The ANC denied reports this week it spent R50 million on a “war room” to disempower the DA and the EFF via “black ops”.

On Wednesday, public relations expert Sihle Bolani took the ANC to the South Gauteng High Court, claiming the party owed her R2.2 million for work done as part of its campaign. The matter was struck from the roll for lack of urgency.

ANC activist Shaka Sisulu later released a statement denying he was at the forefront of the campaign. “These reports are inherently false, exaggerated and no doubt intended to discredit, in part my reputation and most significantly, the name of the ANC.”

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said it would be premature to comment on the matter as legal processes should be concluded. “Should circumstances require the Electoral Commission to take any further action, it will not hesitate to discharge its duties and obligations,” spokesperson Kate Bapela said.

Silke pointed to disinformation in politics not being “peculiar to South Africa”.

“We must get used to the fact that there will be disinformation campaigns. This is a global political trend in heated political environments, so I wouldn’t be surprised if these tactics are used in South Africa.”

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga charged that “the whole idea the ANC doesn’t know about the campaign is quite suspicious”.

“The ‘I didn’t know’ is all part of an attempt to avoid responsibility. The reality is we are going into more contentious relations. If they don’t deal with such issues, how far will they go to manipulate public opinion?”

The DA has said it would meet the IEC on the matter.

“The IEC should not sit on their heels and must be proactive in an electoral environment,” said DA MP James Selfe.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the party was referring the matter to its legal counsel to consider civil and criminal action.

“The fraudulent propaganda campaign by the ANC must be treated with contempt by all South Africans who believe in the sanctity of the constitution and the democratic values it espouses.

“The ANC has been exposed as an organisation of people who will do anything to cling to power, which it uses to enrich a political clique instead of delivering services and improving the lives of the citizens of SA,” he said.

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