Why the DA’s ‘flag burning’ advert is so wrong

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By Peter Mothiba

Dr Reneva Fourie
Dr Reneva Fourie

Why the DA’s ‘flag burning’ advert is so wrong

By Reneva Fourie

South Africa has a difficult and painful history in which racism was the foundation of our divisions.

The democracy that we have today came at a very high cost. Countless lives were lost on both sides.

Therefore, social cohesion and national unity are considered sacred goals for healing the past.

Many who were involved in the apartheid era regret that it happened and actively strive to promote harmony.

Most historically oppressed individuals try to move beyond the abusive indignity that still exists today and focus on breaking down the barriers of our past racial categorisation.

Despite lingering tensions and issues with unequal access to wealth and service delivery, the majority of South Africans strongly desire to proudly represent the country, contribute to its growth, and enjoy all that it has to offer – including its beautiful weather, fantastic music, attractive people, silly jokes, and delicious cuisine (including the beloved tradition of braais).

Our national symbols express and embody our subjective passions as a people.

They serve as a testament to the long and challenging negotiations that resulted in the reconciliation of a nation that was torn apart. They represent all of us, regardless of political leanings, with all our unique characteristics.

Our collective acceptance of one another is reflected in our national anthem, which incorporates elements that were once treasured by the liberation movement, the apartheid government, and our former English colonisers.

It is also sung in multiple languages, demonstrating the richness and diversity of our cultural heritage.

When we sing it, both black and white people express pride from the depths of our hearts.

Our coat of arms bears the motto ‘Diverse people unite’, indicative of a rainbow nation yearning to emerge. Like the anthem, our flag is a fusion of symbols dear to us all.

It denotes rebirth and the creation of a new South Africa.
As South African leaders, we are conscious that there are sensitive areas that require sophisticated navigation.

The Democratic Alliance, however, trampled all over our efforts that took decades to cultivate and depicted the burning of our flag in a political advert. Despite widespread condemnation, the DA seems to have no understanding of what they did wrong. Such obtuseness leaves one speechless.

It is deeply troubling that a political party aspiring to govern our nation consistently demonstrates such disrespect.

Numerous instances of this exist, such as Helen Zille’s endorsement of colonialism, Steenhuisen’s derogatory remarks about us being drunkards and disdain for us shopping at PEP Stores, and his audacious request for the United States to oversee our Independent Electoral Commission, which is already globally recognised for its excellence.

One has to wonder what is wrong with the DA’s leadership. Are they oblivious of our history?

Do they have no faith in the people of this country?

Is the consistent repetition of our incompetency as black people a reflection of a ‘baaskap’ mentality?

It is worrying that these individuals, who have no appreciation of the importance of social cohesion and national unity and therefore maintained white privilege in the Western Cape, and who put minimal effort into other municipalities where they govern, may win the national election.

South Africans need to carefully consider their vote on 29 May.

Dr Fourie is a policy analyst specialising in governance, development and security.

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