Thando Nondlwana

By Thando Nondywana

News Reporter

Cyril’s family meeting ‘will not sway voters’ after hearing party propaganda – expert

Expert dismisses controversy over Ramaphosa's address, calling it opportunistic, unlikely to affect voter behavior.

The political row whether President Cyril Ramaphosa abused his power to do some last-minute electioneering in his address to the nation on Sunday night will not sway voters, a communications expert has said.

Clive Simpkins said the address by Ramaphosa was opportunistic and crass. He said the president showed his hand by opportunistically using the time to do a “rehash of ANC failures, repackaged as successes”, to which less educated viewers were subjected to party propaganda.

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ALSO READ: DA wants Ramaphosa to be fined and ANC docked 1% of vote over ‘national address’

“He should have used his time as the country’s president to reassure South Africans about the integrity of the IEC [Electoral Commission of SA], the electoral logistics process, the precautionary role of law enforcement and the need to dampen down speculation, rumour and conspiracy theories.

Should have no effect

He failed to do that. Instead, the moment was opportunistic and crass,” he said. While opposition parties were up in arms, it would have no bearing on voter behaviour, said Simpkins.

“It’s not going to sway voters. When we look at the political campaigns we have witnessed, they have been less effective than they could have been, because the parties too often played each other, rather than focusing on engaging the undecided and potential electorate. Similarly, the address is unlikely to pull numbers.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has taken the ANC to court on the Ramaphosa address, accusing him of using state resources, including the public broadcaster, the SABC, to campaign.

The DA claimed Ramaphosa violated the Electoral Code of Conduct when he “abused the highest office in the land for flagrant electioneering”.

The party wants ANC votes in today’s election to be docked and a R200 000 fine imposed on Ramaphosa. However independent political analyst Goodenough Mashego said the DA was playing “very naughty politics”, and had become synonymous with gasping and pearl-clutching responses to myriad situations.

Mashego insisted Ramaphosa had a right to update the nation on what strides have been achieved, and was in no way different from the “family meetings” during the Covid pandemic.

ALSO READ: MK party wants Ramaphosa jailed for ‘abusing office for political gain’

“The issue of his address was much of him campaigning for the ANC but what Ramaphosa did on Sunday is what they call the benefits of incumbency,” he said.

“I don’t think it was a contravention of the electoral code. I doubt the electoral code will entertain the DA’s demand or will find Ramaphosa guilty because he did not go there about the track record of the party but was talking on government achievements, and this is an ANC government so it will appear that way.”

The uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party also filed an urgent affidavit in the Electoral Court against Ramaphosa in his capacity as ANC president and head of state to uphold the integrity of our electoral process.

The party asked the Electoral Court to cancel ANC’s registration, and wants Ramaphosa charged and jailed for abusing his office for political gain.