Madiba belongs to all – political parties included

CHRISTOPHER TIFFLIN argues that the DA should be allowed to use images and quotes of Nelson Mandela because he is a national figure in the public domain. 

Can the DA just leave Mandela out of this election?

There is no arguing with the criticisms which The Daily Vox makes against the DA advert. You’re right in your overall assessment, but that is not the aspect from which I shall make my response.

Firstly, it would be better for the DA to widen the public’s knowledge of struggle veterans from political parties other than the ANC, as you suggest they should have preferably used one of their own. But that’s precisely the point which I mean to make. The ANC has stolen the perception that they were the vanguard and won democracy alone. The facts point to an underground scene during apartheid that was dirty with political infighting; different anti-apartheid movements fought each other to be the sole voice of the struggle and gain power.

Obviously the ANC finally won out from a social campaign that rallied the world around the figure of Mandela. I do not suggest a proactive effort on their part but rather that protesters around the world were galvanised by Madiba’s incarceration. For the DA to use an unknown personality would not resonate with voters (not that they succeeded with their advert anyway). Mandela is a national figure. The ANC doesn’t own the right to use his image alone for their political purposes. They have a selection of public figures to choose from other than him.

To reiterate, Mandela is a national figure and hence in the public domain. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to use his unifying and inspirational quotes – if not more effectively? Partisan claims over public access to the images of struggle heroes merely entrench political fissures which have persisted from the beginning of the
movement for liberation.

Let’s get over it and actually move on, one step at a time.

Photo_Christopher TifflinChristopher has a degree in Creative Writing – so he likes to write. Which is why he is pursuing a career in journalism. He’s left fairy tales for facts and is particularly interested in politics and foreign affairs. He wants to grow up to be a grizzled, hard-boiled, chain-smoking correspondent covering international stories.

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