OPINION: Decoding and sampling of 2024 election slogans and taglines

Reading Time: 7 minutes

With just under 40 days to go to the country’s seventh national and provincial elections (NPE), political parties are going all out to win the support of South Africa’s 27.7-million registered voters on Election Day.

The big, bold colours are inescapable no matter which road you take to work, school, university or your nearest shopping centre.

There are election posters everywhere, including giant billboards punctuating some of the nation’s major highways and freeways.

If you were a tourist coming to South Africa for the very first time, you will know that a major election is coming in a month’s time. There is no missing it.

So what are political parties saying? And just how entertaining are their electoral slogans and campaign taglines. Let us take a look.

African National Congress (ANC)

Despite the African National Congress being the governing party since 1994, the ANC’s election posters are pretty standard, with zero departures from its actual manifesto message, Together We Can Do More. As per tradition, the ANC’s campaigning posters bear the face of its president, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Democratic Alliance (DA)

Like the ANC, the Democratic Alliance has maintained their 2024 election manifesto messaging in their posters, Rescue SA, with some variety seeping into some campaigning messages. One example is the focus on the slogan IMAGINE, which they then attach to phrases such as ‘Imagine No Water Shedding’, ‘Imagine No Load shedding’ and ‘Imagine 300 000 jobs’. And these ‘Imagine’ billboards are strategically placed on major traffic routes to maximize eyeballs, especially during early morning and late evening gridlocked traffic. In this sense, the DA is playing a clever electoral game.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)

Like the ANC and DA, the EFF too is sticking to its key manifesto messaging, with just the face of leader, Julius Malema adorning its posters. There are no witty one liners or scare tactics to win over voters.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)

One of the more interesting posters of this election season belongs to the Inkatha Freedom Party. Apart from using the image of its founding president, Dr. Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the IFP’s election posters stay on message as per its election manifesto, saying just ‘Trust Us, We Work For You’. But, even more interesting, the party repeats its call made at its manifesto launch, that voters should (hashtag) #DoItForShenge. However, the only issue I have with the IFP posters is the smaller text, that is mostly not comprehensible to passing motorists.

Freedom Front Plus (FF+)


Another party that sticks to its 2024 election manifesto offering is the Freedom Front Plus. FF+ posters are distinctive with its bright green and gold colours that are almost impossible to miss driving through some of the major freeways. The party’s messaging is clear and unambiguous, ‘Restore and Rebuild’, accompanied by a big picture of its leader, Dr. Pieter Mulder.

Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK)

One of the better posters that grabbed my attention instantly is that of the newly-founded political vehicle of former president, Jacob Zuma, Umkhonto we Sizwe. Whoever is advising this party on how best to design a forceful election poster should be commended. Not only does the poster get its message across with the simple slogan ‘Mayibuye’ (restore, bring it back), the use of Zuma’s face against a black and gold background is brilliant. Zuma stands out. And voters are able to make the MK connection immediately. There is no ambiguity as far as his former political home, the ANC, is concerned.

Action SA

Another poster that I really liked was that of Action SA. This is Action SA’s first general election. It participated in the 2021 local government elections. Action SA’s 2024 election posters are simple, draped in its hallmark green and white colours, with the slogan ‘Only ACTION can save SA’. This is a very clever use of the word ‘Action’.

Some of the ‘different’ and inexplicable ones

Of course, in every election, there are those parties that will make you sit up, asking just exactly what were the parties’ strategists thinking – if indeed they have any. Here is a sampling of some of these:

Minority Front (MF)

A few weeks ago, this predominantly-Indian party of the late Amichand Rajbansi put up posters with a picture of current leader, Shamin Thakur-Rajbansi, coupled with the slogan ‘It’s Your Life’. Forgive me but what exactly is this supposed to mean; and where is the connection to the 2024 general elections? Thankfully, the party will not be contesting on May 29. According to Thakur-Rajbansi, this was due to insufficient funds. Also, this will be the first time since 1994 that the MF will be watching from the sidelines. Thakur-Rajbansi is currently the MF’s sole representative in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature.

Democratic Liberal Congress (DLC)

On the subject of the Minority Front, the Democratic Liberal Congress – a breakaway from the MF – is another of those parties with an inexplicable election tagline. If you are in eThekwini, it is difficult to miss the hundreds of posters adorning every light pole with the face of DLC leader, Patrick Pillay, and the tagline ‘Know Your Rights’. Again, can someone please make the connection with the 2024 general elections for me? I cannot see it. Or am I missing something?

Rise Mzansi

Another party expecting to do well in these elections is Rise Mzansi, founded by businessman Songezo Zibi. Keeping it simple, the posters boast a picture of Zibi, accompanied by the tagline ‘We Need New Leaders’. While most of us might agree that we need new politicians to run this country, we are not told enough on who the current crop of political elites need to be replaced by. Who are the people in Rise Mzansi that seeks to win our vote? For this, I suppose one will need to attend the party’s many campaigning activities and/ or go to their website. As a dedicated researcher, I went to their website but exited still not knowing who those people are being offered to the voter.

African Movement Congress (AMC)

The last party that grabbed my attention is the political outfit of controversial businessman, Roy Moodley. The party is named African Movement Congress. If you abbreviate the party, you will notice that ‘AMC’ is very close to ‘ANC’. I hope you are thinking what I am thinking. Yes, there remains this quest for political parties to closely resemble the colours and ‘name’ to the African National Congress in the hope that voters might be confused on Election Day, especially those uneducated, semi-literate supporters of the governing party. An example where this happened was the African Independent Congress or AIC which purportedly took away voters from the ANC in previous elections. Or at least this was what we were told by several ANC leaders. Other examples include former ANC Secretary-General, Ace Magashule’s African Congress for Transformation (ACT) and former SABC Chief Operations Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s, African Content Movement (ACM).

But I digress. The reason why I brought this party up is because of its latest campaign poster, which I happened to see as I exited Phoenix a few times. While simple, the poster/ billboard has a picture of Moodley, along with the tagline ‘Rescue the Economy, God Can’. Again, what am I missing?

When I went to the AMC’s website, I became even more concerned when I saw this mini image with the incorrect spelling on CONCRESS (sic). Forgive me, but I refuse to vote for a party that cannot get basic spelling correct.

Source: https://africanmovementcongress.org/

The final stretch

May 29 is not too far off. And as the election nears, political parties will begin to amplify their appeals to the voter through campaign posters, media interviews, door-to-door canvassing, town hall meetings and rallies, to name but a few.

I have no doubt that campaigning tools will become even more imaginative.

The trick is to block out the noise and for voters to understand just exactly what political parties are offering them for the next five years.

Having a tangible game plan is essential.

Mere political rhetoric will not do.

Dr. Ronesh Dhawraj is with the SABC News & Current Affairs division.