Another week, another political scandal! After a week of evictions and a march to the Mail and Guardian’s offices by the ANCYL, it was the Democratic Alliances turn to head into the dog box. Literally. On Monday, the party found itself at the centre of a Twitter controversy after their deputy Chief Whip Mike Waters tweeted a picture that got the ANC’s blood rushing. The picture, captioned “Voting Day”, shows dogs queueing up to take a piss on a poster of President Jacob Zuma. The results were as disastrous as they were inevitable.
The ANC immediately capitalized, issuing a statement that called the DA out on their “bigotry”. “We are neither shocked nor surprised by this behaviour from a member of the DA as the party proves on a regular basis that it is nothing but a collection of bigoted racists who continue to regard black people as sub-human…dogs,” said spokesperson Zizi Kodwa in a statement. The SACP also chipped in by demanding the DA remove Waters as a public representative and adding that “…Parliament is no place for racism and racists”.
To his credit, Waters has since (sort of) apologized. He apologized for any offence the tweet may have caused and not for the tweet itself. The Democratic Alliance readily accepted his apology. “Mike has unreservedly apologised for the tweet. He is not a racist person and has acknowledged that the picture is offensive and distasteful, and we have accepted that,” replied DA spokesperson Phumzile van Damme. She further stated that the DA would revise their social media policy.
Seriously. Someone tell the DA to get off Twitter. Nationalize their phones. Steal them. Hell, just smash them into pieces. Just someone save this party from itself. When it comes to Twitter, the Democratic Alliance seems to be stuck in a rat wheel of controversy – just one PR disaster after another, after another, after another (you get the point).
Much like the EWN cartoon, this is a good study in interpretation of satire or political jest. The truth is, Waters’ meme could have been interpreted in a number of ways. It could have meant that voters should mark their discontent by (metaphorically) pissing on Zuma in the next election. Hell, Waters could also have just liked the idea of seeing a bunch of dogs lining up to “vote”. But, as far as interpretation goes, narrative doesn’t exist without context. And in the minds of many, the political context that the DA operates upon is that of a white party that protects white interests. They’re just concerned with those of a lighter hue. In this perceived context then, the narrative changes from a critique of Zuma to a critique of voters. “Dogs” lining up to vote for Zuma.
Only Waters knows what he really meant when he published the article but one thing’s for sure: he should have known better. Things aren’t always interpreted the way we mean them to. If Walters had taken this into consideration, he could have saved himself and the DA from a massive PR disaster.
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