Party banners colouring city streets

Flags and posters belonging to political parties as visible on Samora Machel Drive.

Political parties’ election banners and flags have appeared earlier than usual this year with the city’s lamp posts rendered ever so colourful by them.

With each election cycle, parties erecting banners and flags become the subject of controversy. In the past they were allowed to put up posters encouraging prospective voters to register, but were not allowed to erect election posters before the date of the election had been published in the Government Gazette.

This year things have changed with the South African Local Government Association (Salga) requesting municipalities to waive the usual permissions to allow parties to put up banners ahead of the local government elections on August 3.

According to spokesman for Mbombela Local Municipality’s (MLM) Mr Joseph Ngala, the ANC and DA’s election banners visible in the city have been paid for by the parties and adhered to the regulations of the municipality by-laws.

“Any political party can pay a certain amount to the municipality in order for them to advertise on the space. It is deemed as advertising and not canvassing.  (After the period has lapsed) the municipality has the power to force political parties to remove their branding in public spaces or issue a fine if they do not adhere.”

Municipal by-laws regulate outdoor advertising which is on, or visible from public roads within the municipal area, whether or not it is erected on private property.

In case of planned organisational events, the municipal by-laws states that no banner shall be displayed for more than two weeks before the date of the function or event advertised, nor shall any such advertisement be permitted to remain in position for more than one day after the conclusion of such function or event.

Mr Sibusiso Themba, ANC spokesman told Nelspruit Post that the flags were erected in preparation of a planned manifesto launch last weekend.

Mr Steve Schormann, chief whip of the DA in MLM council reiterated that the municipality’s by-laws regarding the posting of election banners were relaxed at the request of Salga in March, making way for political parties to start canvassing for votes prior to the coming local government elections in August.

• Prospective voters can still register or update their details on the voters’ roll ahead of the municipal elections by visiting the local offices of the Independent Electoral Commission

Trevor Hlungwani

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