South Africa: Controversy over political poster showing interracial couple

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Nearly 20 years after apartheid ended, a political poster showing a black man and a white women in a romantic embrace has caused controversy in South Africa.

The poster by the opposition Democratic Alliance party's student wing shows the interracial couple gazing into each other's eyes, with the suggestion that they are naked.

The tagline says: "In OUR future, you wouldn’t look twice.”

The DA, which received about 16 percent of the national vote in 2009 elections, has faced persistent accusations of being a party for white people despite efforts to broaden its support base and take on the African National Congress. The ANC has ruled South Africa since the first free elections in 1994.

In October, the DA elected its first black parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, a 31-year-old woman.

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The poster, to be displayed at South African universities, sparked a range of criticism — some of it far-reaching.

Zet Luzipho, a provincial secretary for Cosatu, a powerful trade union federation, told the South African Press Association that the poster "entrenches white supremacy."

"The posture says join the DA to have an affair with a white person. The DA thinks our struggle for democracy was about the Immorality Act and the Group Areas Act," Luzipho said, referring to apartheid-era legislation that kept people of different races separate.

The Christian Democratic Party called the poster "shocking" and linked it to promiscuity, AIDS, crime and farm murders.

DA youth leader Makashule Gana told local media that the poster was intended to create debate about race.

"To say that the poster is sexual is taking it to the extreme. The poster is saying a lot. They are embracing each other, and it shows in this country that we can find an opportunity to embrace each other," he said.

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The poster has received hundreds of comments on the DA youth's Facebook page.

One Facebook user wrote: "I have no issue with the poster, in fact I think it's kinda cool. However why do they have to be naked? I think it takes away from the message."

Another wrote: "That something so humanly beautiful, an embrace between two people, can cause so much disharmony and conflict. We live in such a beautiful country but we are so divided through sheer ignorance!

It also drew comments from South African Twitter users, with one asking: "Is the DA campaigning on behalf of white sugar-daddies who go after young native chicks?"

The DA youth federal chairperson Mbali Ntuli defended the poster campaign in an open letter on the group's official website.

"With all the comments, good and bad, we have achieved our goal of engaging South Africans in a frank debate about one of the most defining issues in our country today – tolerance," Ntuli wrote.

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