The Democratic Alliance (DA) has threatened legal action against the Al Jama-ah party for printing an election pamphlet, which calls on the public not to vote for the DA amid allegations that it is a Zionist funded party. The pamphlet in questions depicts the DA logo, emblazoned with the words ‘Don’t Vote’. The poster also claims the new City of the Cape Town logo represents the Star of David, a symbol of Judaism and that a vote for Helen Zille “is a betrayal of the Palestinian struggle”.
The Al Jama-ah pamphlet is based on the premise that it is “haraam to vote for the DA”. According to the flyer, “the DA and the DA’s Parliamentary candidate Glynnis Breytenbach received money from a known Zionist, Nathan Kirsh. Nathan Kirsch, the largest shareholder in Magal Security Systems, won a tender in the construction of the apartheid wall in the West Bank. DA leader Helen Zille refused to disclose whether the party was funded by Kirsch but publically admitted that he was her close friend.”
In the letter sent by the DA’s legal representatives, Minde Shapiro and Smith, the Al Jama-ah party is accused of violating the Electoral Act 73 of 1998, the Electoral Commission Act 51 of 1996 and the Electoral Code of conduct as stipulated in S99 of the Act and Schedule 2 to the Act.
The letter states that the allegations disclosed in the flyer are “false and defamatory” and use of the DA’s logo plagiarises the party’s symbols, colours and acronyms. This, it added, was in violation of Section 9(1) (c). The letter further contends that the poster transgressed Section 89 (1) of the Act, which states that: “No person may public any false information with the intention of influencing the conduct or outcome of an election.”
The party warned that should Al Jama-ah fail to comply with the Electoral Code of Conduct, it would take the appropriate action, which includes “a punitive cost order”.
In response, Advocate Zehir Omar, acting for Al Jama-ah, said the letter does not state which facts are false and does not admit or deny the accusations levelled at the DA.
He said a responding letter was sent to Minde Shapiro and Smith stating that Al Jama-ah would not distribute the pamphlets on condition that the DA answer pertinent questions related to the party’s funding. These questions are:
-Did the DA propose that the “Star of David” incorporate the logo of the City of Cape Town?
-Does the DA approve or condemn the host of UN resolutions that Israel was found to have contravened in relation to Palestine and the Palestinians?
-Does the DA support or condemn the “Apartheid Wall” in Wesbank and does your client agree that the said wall facilitates Apartheid?
-Does the DA admit that the practice of “Apartheid” is a crime against humanity?
-Does the DA agree that those who support financially or otherwise, people who oppress others are oppressors themselves?
-Does the DA receive funding from people who support Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine?
-Did the DA ever receive funding from Mr. Nathan Kirsh?
-Did Glyniss Breytenbach receive funding from Mr. Nathan Kirsh?
The party have asked for a reply from the DA within four days. Once the response is issued, then the pamphlets will be adapted and then disseminated, said Omar.
“If the answers are inadequate, or if no answers are received, then the people of this country should know that there is perhaps a tacit approval by the DA of the actions of the Israeli authorities towards the Palestinians,” said Omar.
The advocate cited a Johannesburg High Court order in January 2011, in which Al Jama-ah was declared to be a national political party with a largely Muslim constituency. Omar said this court order was important as it elevated the party to be “an authentic voice for the Muslims of South Africa.” Based on this, the party believes there is a religious consequence attached to the Muslim vote.
Omar added that the Al Jam-ah party had done “extensive research” in framing its argument in the election flyer.
“If that which is contained the poster is the truth, then the DA will be very hard pressed to persuade any judge in any court in our country that the information contained in the flyer is not of public interest,” he argued.
“What I am saying is that if the pamphlet is the truth, it is not in contravention of the electoral act, nor would it be in contravention of the common law.”
In a statement on Thursday, Al Jama-ah party said it “will not be bullied by questionably funded big parties”. The party stressed it would “not be silenced on the issue of Palestine” which it believes has become an important election topic.
“It is our position that whoever funds a political party has a direct influence in the policy position that party will take and it is therefore imperative for parties to disclose who their substantial donors are in order for voters to make informed and conscious decisions when voting,” the party said.
“For more than a decade, civil society has called for the introduction of legislation that would regulate political party funding. Political parties and Parliament have ignored these repeated requests for action. There must be transparency and accountability in the financial operations of political parties.”
Meanwhile, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) declined to comment, saying that it had not been informed of the possible legal action. A spokesperson told VOC News that it was essentially a “legal matter” and the IEC could not comment on the merits of the case. Only once a court handed down a judgement, would the IEC make a statement. VOC (Tasneem Adams)