In a highly unusual move, the Democratic Alliance, currently South Africa’s largest Parliamentary opposition party, says it has laid a complaint with Der Spiegel, a German newspaper, over what it calls the paper’s inflammatory reporting on SA’s upcoming election.
The party`s Chief Whip Ian Davidson says Der Spiegel is a prominent and well-regarded newspaper, “and the articles that it has published could well scare of tourists, frighten investors and damage SA`s efforts to show that it is a stable democracy.”
He adds an article published last month entitled “The Army stands by” builds a picture of a country that is on the verge of civil war.
“For example, the lead-in paragraph asserts that ‘the country is getting out of control: the youth organizations of the rival parties are at war with each other.`
“Using the imagery of the recent Western Cape fires to reinforce his point, the journalist goes on to describe South Africa as being in the midst of a ‘vicious circle of violence` in which ‘appeals to moderation and restraint remain unheard`.”
Davidson says the reporter concludes by implying that South Africa is headed back to the bloody ANC/IFP conflict of the 1980s by saying that “politicians and commentators are almost hysterically, constantly recalling the bloody and violent conflicts between the ANC and the IFP during the election campaigns at the end of the eighties, which led to more than 7000 dead”.
The chief whip adds this is not the only such article carried in that paper.
“The DA does not believe we should minimise the problems of electoral violence and intimidation… This trend must be watched and the perpetrators vigorously hunted down and acted against.
“But anyone living in South Africa will know that the country is not on the brink of civil war and that the electoral process has for the most part been smooth. Yet Germans who have not been to South Africa do not have any context within which to place these articles, and are going to be left with the impression that South Africa is just another African country on the point of implosion,” Davidson says.