What the hell were you thinking, DA?

With many political parties shooting themselves in the foot in pre-election month, you’d think DA strategists would have seized the opportunity to rise above the conventional mudslinging that usually accompanies the hustings.

Inevitably accused of focusing on what the ANC is NOT doing, rather than focusing on what the DA would do as an alternative, the official opposition chose to craft a YouTube video which hi-jacks the poster child of the ANC, in an attempt to suggest that the DA stands more for the values espoused by Nelson Mandela, than does the party to which Nelson Mandela was faithful right up to the end.

In typical pompous, righteous fashion, DA federal executive chairperson James Selfe tells the media that it will not withdraw the video clip, and that its legal advice is quite clear that the DA is fully within its rights to use Nelson Mandela’s voice in the video, and that the DA “will see you in court” if anybody would like to challenge that right.

For the record, the advertisement uses Nelson Mandela’s words “let there be justice for all, let there be peace, let there be work, let there be bread for all” over an image of a young woman in a polling booth hesitating over the ANC box and instead putting her cross in the DA box.

The DA’s defence, that Madiba belongs not only to the ANC (as is asserted by his grandson Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela), although bordering on the disingenuous, is in a measure true – except that Madiba actually belongs to the whole world, not only to the ANC, or to South Africa.

Yes, the DA does have a right to do what it did, but how wise was the decision?

The target of the advertisement is clearly the youth. What more disaffected constituency could the DA attempt to influence with an advertisement that could become a touchpaper for the anger which is driving the many youth protest movements that are redefining our political landscape?

#RhodesMustFall and #Fees MustFall are manifestations of an infuriated youth, who believe that the deal struck in the lead- up to 1994, was little short of a sellout to white crony capitalism.

The oft expressed anguish and white hot anger about black pain at the hands of white privilege, enunciated so often in the last few months, is a clangoring alarm bell that only an idiot would miss, yet the DA seems to have missed it.

Faced with the opportunity to withdraw the advertisement, an appeal to (black) youth to give it the edge in the metros it is pursuing in the August 3 poll with varying possibilities of success – Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane, Ekurhulen and Johannesburg – it instead chose to brazen out an ill-conceived campaign which could end up scuppering its electoral intentions.

In his furious response to the advertisement, Mandla Mandela says: “The use of his (Nelson Mandela’s) voice in an attempt to lend credibility to a party that has made the preservation of white privilege its raison d’être is vile and untruthful” – and this sums up perfectly the magnitude of the faux pas perpetrated by the DA.

If the DA does succeed in any of the metros it is pursuing, it will be despite, rather than because, of this opportunistic campaign device.

Talk about scoring an own goal.