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President Ramaphosa Denounces Campaign Ad with Burning Flag as 'Treasonous'

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Mbeki edmond

May 9, 2024

South Africa's Political Climate Heats Up as Elections Approach

The DA, which secured the second-largest share of votes in the last election, defends the ad as a metaphorical representation of the country’s plight after three decades of ANC rule. Helen Zille, a former DA leader and current chairperson of the party's federal council, penned an opinion piece stating that the flag in the ad represents "the dream we shared 30 years ago, at the dawn of democracy under President Nelson Mandela," which has been "ravaged" by long-standing ANC governance.
South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa makes an address

Johannesburg, May 8—In a bold and controversial move, South Africa’s Democratic Alliance (DA) has ignited a heated debate just weeks before the national elections on May 29. A campaign advertisement depicting a burning national flag has been labeled "treasonous" by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The President vehemently criticized the opposition for what he considers a desecration of a national symbol during his visit to Limpopo province.


The advertisement, which first aired on Monday, portrays a flag slowly being consumed by flames, symbolizing the potential dangers of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) forming a coalition with left-wing parties like the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and those loyal to former President Jacob Zuma. An intact flag eventually emerges from the ashes, accompanied by the DA’s rallying cry, "Unite to rescue South Africa, vote DA."

President Ramaphosa expressed his disdain for the ad, stating,

"It is the most despicable political act that anyone can embark upon," and accusing the DA of undermining national unity. His strong reaction comes as the ANC faces the possibility of losing its majority for the first time since the end of apartheid 30 years ago—a significant shift that could force the ANC into a coalition to maintain power.

The DA, which secured the second-largest share of votes in the last election, defends the ad as a metaphorical representation of the country’s plight after three decades of ANC rule. Helen Zille, a former DA leader and current chairperson of the party's federal council, penned an opinion piece stating that the flag in the ad represents

"the dream we shared 30 years ago, at the dawn of democracy under President Nelson Mandela," which has been "ravaged" by long-standing ANC governance.

John Steenhuisen, the leader of the DA, has described the potential coalition between the ANC and the EFF as a "doomsday" scenario for South Africa. However, he has not dismissed the possibility of collaborating with the ANC if it helps prevent an EFF alliance.


The ad has certainly divided opinions, with supporters applauding its stark imagery as a call to action, while critics, like President Ramaphosa, view it as an attack on a cherished national symbol. With the ANC’s polling numbers hovering just over 40%, the upcoming election could be a turning point for South Africa’s political landscape.


As election day draws near, all eyes are on how these political strategies will impact voter sentiment and the future governance of South Africa. The DA’s controversial ad has undoubtedly set the stage for a fiercely contested election as parties vie not just for votes but for the ideological soul of the nation.

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