Ramaphosa Labels Opposition Flag-Burning Election Ad Treasonous

(Bloomberg) -- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa accused the main opposition party of treason after it flighted an election advertisement that shows the national flag being burnt.

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The Democratic Alliance’s 30-second clip, released a few days ago, is accompanied by a voice-over that alludes to how the ruling African National Congress will do anything to retain power, including entering into a coalition with the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters and uMkhonto weSizwe, a party backed by former President Jacob Zuma — a prospect that has spooked investors.

Several opinion polls show the ANC risks losing the parliamentary majority in the May 29 vote for the first time since White majority ruled ended three decades ago, a backlash over slipshod government services and its failure to tackle poor service delivery, high unemployment, rampant crime and electricity shortages.

“The burning of the national flag in a political advertisement is treasonous,” Ramaphosa said in posting on social media platform X. “The national flag is a sacred symbol of our unity and existence as a nation and to burn it is despicable.”

Helen Zille, the chairwoman of the DA’s federal council defended the advertisement, saying it was intended to convey the “stark truth” about the damage the ANC had done to the country and the dangers of allowing it to continue in office.

“We want to go to war against those who are destroying the dream that once united our nation. We want to save our flag,” she said in a statement. “Controversy helps drive our message.”

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There are no explicit constitutional or legal provisions outlawing the burning of the national flag, limiting the government’s scope to take legal action against the DA.

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