Pretoria – Political parties are desperately trying to win over neutral and undecided voters as the clock ticks towards the May 8 general election.
And in the process, it is on the streets where the visual battle to win the hearts of the voters is gaining momentum.
From President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC to the DA’s Mmusi Maimane and EFF’s Julius Malema and all the minority parties, posters are lining the streets across Pretoria and the rest of the country.
Political analyst Professor Mashupye Maserumule of the Tshwane University of Technology said although social media had been dominant over the years, it only catered to a few fish in the sea against South Africa’s backdrop.
Outdoor advertising, or posters, was thus simply the most impactful media platform for political parties, he said.
Posters have been put up on walls, bus stops, street lamps, trees, and even on statues.
Some are in contravention of the municipal by-laws, but nonetheless create somewhat of a vibrant ambiance – in addition to reminding all that the country is heading to the polls next month.
City spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said political posters may be displayed on lamp poles from the date of promulgation of the election date.
However, posters may not be displayed on trees, traffic signs, power boxes or be pasted on walls of bridges or similar public infrastructure.
While the streets are draped with most of the political colours, the hues that stand out are from the big three – the ANC, DA and EFF. There is also the splash of dark-green and orange of the Freedom Front Plus and black and yellow of the IFP.
The most striking view of the posters, twirled together has to be along Pretorius Street just after the highway.
The DA seemed to have invested more in posters than any other party. On the poster of its leader Mmusi Maimane against a background of the South African flag and the words Bringing Change, it is written “One South Africa for all.”
The party also has blue poster messages focused primarily on fair access to jobs, a job in every home, honest and professional police, keeping the lights on, bringing change and securing our borders.
The EFF kept it minimal and neat. The poster shows Malema smiling behind a blood-red background with the words, Son of the Soil in bold yellow. Malema also appears on a giant billboard as one enters the city, near the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre.
The ANC poster is busier in its design. It has a picture of a smiling President Cyril Ramaphosa, with the words, Let’s Grow South Africa Together, in bold black letters.
Freelance graphic designer and part-time marketer Khutso Ditchabe said the parties used a modernist aesthetic – all bold block colours, strident text and simple imagery – to convey a crude, yet effective message. He noted the use of simple flat colours, short, sharp slogans, geometric shapes and diagonal lines combined to produce bold images.
He cautioned that it was risky to be too minimalistic or bordering on exaggeration, but sometimes "people need to be reminded what they need to vote for". Nonetheless, less was more; especially when one was driving. Too much can be confusing. “But all the posters look great, creating a rainbow effect.”