Election 2019: a festival of ideas, not manipulation

Issued by Phumzile van Damme –
07 Apr 2018 in News

It is so lovely to be here today.

To be here in a building filled with thousands of South Africans from every corner of our beautiful country.

South Africans who have travelled long distances driven by a love for our nation and the common values that unite us the Democratic Alliance.

Our values are the glue that holds us together, despite our differences in race, gender, culture, sexual orientation and all the other beautiful differences that make South Africa’s people special.

We are a party united in diversity.

We are party united in building a South Africa that belongs to all who live in it.

We must therefore stand united, as a party, against those who seek to divide us.

Especially those who seek to divide us on race.

Let those political parties who trade on pitting South Africans against each other know that they will not succeed.

South Africa will defeat you.

Your attempts to foster hatred between us will fail.

We also send a warning knell to those companies who will no doubt come knocking as the 2019 election beckons to peddle their digital dark arts.

We say, take heed of what is happening to Cambridge Analytica.

Ask the company formerly known as Bell Pottinger what happens when you try manipulate South Africans.

As we know, Bell Pottinger paid by the Guptas ran a PR and digital campaign that attempted to divide and conquer South Africa.

It did so by exploiting racial divisions in South Africa.

It did so in order to keep Jacob Zuma and the ANC in power.

It was the people of South Africa who first stood up who made it loud and clear that “not on our doorstep”

And then met Bell Pottinger with the formidable force that is the fearless spirit of the people of South Africa.

Ours, as the Democratic Alliance was to ensure accountability.

And so we took the fight to London, and defeated Bell Pottinger in their own backyard.

We say to companies who specialize in the digital dark arts and aim to exploit and manipulate voters: there will be zero tolerance for underhanded tactics in the digital space. You will be caught. And you will be held accountable.

In my role in Parliament, I will make it my goal to ensure that there is better protection of personal data on social media platforms so what happened in the US election does not happen here.

We will also join in taking the fight to companies like Twitter, who must ensure that their problem with political propaganda bots is dealt with.

Bots pose a serious threat to our democracy in their use as conduits and amplifiers of disinformation and fake news, in order to manipulate voter opinions.

Fake news websites, pose a similar threat.

We will be appealing to the IEC to take the technological threats to our democracy seriously, or run risk of an election that may not be free and fair.

South Africa, we say let the 2019 election be a festival of ideas.

An election where each political party brings to the table their plan to build a better South Africa.

Let it be about persuasion, and not manipulation of voters.

I look forward to joining the DA as we embark on our 2019 campaign to persuade South Africa to vote DA.

We will do so ethically, through hard work and toil to win the hearts and minds of the people of our beautiful country.

Viva DA viva.

Woza 2019, woza.