The outcry over FNB’s advertising campaign, in which schoolchildren read out their wishes for the future of South Africa, comes at a particularly bad time for the ANC. Amid recent violent unrest in the northern Free State, the latest in a spate of protest action over poor service delivery and labour dissatisfaction, the ANC’s accusations of treason seems like a poor attempt to save face, while the shocking images on television and in newspapers seem to give the lie to the outcry.
The public is left with an even stronger impression of a party in which the majority of members are only interested in enriching themselves, while polishing the party’s image by assuring citizens that everything is all right while the country struggles under corruption and mismanagement.
While there is substance to the criticism that FNB made a mistake by taking such a strong political stance, the ANC’s reaction does more damage to the party’s image than if the reaction had been more measured. But then, the simple fact is that the controversial advertisements reflect some hard truths about the present state of the nation and if government had kept to its mandate of serving the nation, rather than having the nation serve it, such hyperbolic accusations of ‘treason’ would probably not be necessary.