The Democratic Alliance (DA) faced backlash for its campaign poster that championed the suspects accused of murdering protesters as ‘Phoenix heroes’.
‘Phoenix heroes’: DA gets backlash for poor campaigning
The Durban community has been ruptured by July’s massacre that left at least 36 people dead. A number of local residents have been arrested for an array of crimes committed during the national shutdown riots that disrupted life in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).
Families of the accused recently held demonstrations and handed over memorandum of demands which called for the immediate release of their loved ones.
It seems, the DA has joined the fray, in a bid to win over support ahead of the 2021 local government elections. In a number of campaign posters hung across the Durban suburb, the opposition party championed those responsible for July’s carnage as ‘Phoenix heroes’.
The Vigilantes that killed over 300 ppl in Phoenix are DA’s heroes ???😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/TBUBkoZSRC— Black Queen (@NdlovuPowen) October 5, 2021
Here are some of the reactions we picked out from the outrage that ensued shortly after images of the poster surfaced on social media:
Only if both Indians in Phoenix and Africans around that area can stand up and tell politicians like the DA and ANC off, and resolve issues as citizens. I’m disappointed that the good citizens of Phoenix have not protested that poster. Do they like it?— Fairness BWB (@fairnessbwb1) October 6, 2021
one would hope that our politics doesnt become so polarized that we can’t see right from wrong…is the DA forgetting that innocent people were murdered in Phoenix?….that’s low https://t.co/CeZ0czy6uT— The Watcher (@MTshwete) October 6, 2021
Please explain to me how the murdering of humans in Phoenix is “heroic”? Families are hurt and crying and just so that this racist and facist party can get the Indian vote they are calling murders heroes! The DA doesn’t care about black lives. They don’t deserve our vote @Our_DA pic.twitter.com/ENwRAzPlPT— Nommy (@NommyVilakazi) October 6, 2021
DA’s tries to explain poster incident
In a bid to limit the damage, DA leaders have been at the forefront of a public relations storm, trying to rationalise the context of the triggering campaign posters.
Dean Macpherson, the DA’s leader in KZN, pinned the blame for the ‘Phoenix heroes’ messaging squarely on the ANC who apparently “called anyone who protected their homes and communities, in any community across the city, racist”.
“Anyone who looked after their community & were the blue line between total anarchy and the chaos that we went through is a hero. Anyone who thinks this is tone deaf is probably not from the city,” Macpherson said.
In July, at the height of the violence that divided Phoenix along racial lines, Swisher Post News interviewed Macpherson who, at the time, had been encouraging residents to bare arms and fight off protesters.
Asked about the dangers of supporting the notion of private civilians bearing arms, Macpherson maintained that “private citizens have every right to defend themselves in the face of lawlessness and anarchy.”
The DA leader had, in a tweet, applauded residents who’d taken up arms to ‘defend’ their community.
Let me be very clear on this issue as the DA. Until such time as the rule of law is established it is impossible for communities to stand down. It’s what I have informed communities & support such an approach. Once the situation improves with more police and army then we can talk https://t.co/trvQW5nWRG— Dean Macpherson (@DeanMacpherson) July 14, 2021
Responding to the controversial tweet, Macpherson said:
“It would be a terrible situation if the communities were to withdraw at this point, without a stabilisation of the situation on the ground and without that massive deployment arriving in those communities. So, it was completely full-hard of the mayor and the metro police to call for that because it would just totally expose the communities at the moment.”