DA advert court victory is a win for freedom of expression – James Selfe

Party says ANC will use independent State institutions and entities, like ICASA, to fight its political battles and muzzle political opponents

DA Ayisafani advert court victory is a win for freedom of expression and the fight against state capture

9 September 2016

The DA is pleased with the judgement in its court action against the SAPS, SABC and ICASA which ruled that the DA’s Ayisafani election campaign advertisement was protected under the constitutionally safeguarded freedom of expression, and the arguments advanced were nothing more than“speculation” and “baseless”. To this end, the government respondents acted in a manner that is at odds with our constitutional order.

Specifically the South Gauteng High Court found that “there was no legal and sound ground to curtail such vital rights. The respondents twisted concessions that [the DA] made.” Additionally the Court determined that ICASA “used such concessions to curtail [the DA’s] freedom of speech and right to campaign freely, such attitude is unacceptable.”

As the ANC fast loses legitimacy in the eyes of citizens what has become clear is that it will use independent State institutions and entities, like ICASA, to fight its political battles for the sole purpose of muzzling its political opponents. It is for this reason that Judge Monama issued the strong proviso that bodies like ICASA should be “insulated from political or economic capture.”

In the lead up to the 2019 General Elections all functionaries of the ANC’s state capture would do well to heed this scathing judgement that provides legal precedent for the fair and just exchange of ideas pursuant to the hard won provisions in our Constitution.

This judgement is not only important for entrenching the democratic and constitutional sanctity of the principle of freedom of expression but it also strengthens the fight against the capture of the State and its institutions, especially those tasked with protecting and upholding South Africa’s democracy.

The SAPS was also the subject of a tongue-lashing by Judge Monama who stated that:

- “They used restrictive interpretation. This wrong approach which went against the precedent, and they suppressed the applicant’s freedom of expression and political discourse. The court finds the conduct of the SAPS in the lodging of the complaint strange. They invited themselves whereas the target was the African National Congress.”

- The submissions of SAPS “are devoid of any merits and dangerous at best. There is nothing in this advertisement that can remotely be construed as an invitation to obstruct the police in the execution of their work.”

As the political ground shifts, this should send a warning to the ANC who have in the past manipulated institutions of the State in order to advance their own narrow political agendas. It is the ideas and policies of the DA that have seen it grow election after election, not sordid schemes aimed undermining democratic processes.

The DA will continue to fight against the politics of dishonesty and subversion, and will continue to build a better South Africa. Anyone who uses illegitimate means to undermine this project will be dealt with by the very systems mandated to protect the democratic project.

Issued by James Selfe, Chairperson of the DA’s Federal Executive, 9 September 2016