The religious and civil society community has called on political parties to tone down their campaign rhetoric, saying that character assassination is as devastating as physical violence.
The Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who is also the chair of the Electoral Code of Conduct Observer Commission (ECCOC), has called on political parties to tone down their election rhetoric. In a statement released on Wednesday, 17 April 2019, the archbishop of Cape Town said election observers from religious ad civil society groups were calling on political parties in the Western Cape (WC) to “tone down their campaign rhetoric.”
Makgoba also warned that “character assassination is as devastating as physical violence.”
“A free and fair election is not determined only by what happens on Election Day, but by attitudes and activities in the run-up to the election.
“While campaigning is fundamental to any election, character assassination is as devastating as is physical violence. We call on political parties to tone down their campaign rhetoric to reflect values of respect and encourage an environment of decency and dignity.
“An election should not be about winning at all costs. That approach diminishes the electoral environment to a mere scramble for power which ignores decency and respect.
“After the election, we still have to work together as South Africans to address the challenges of our society. We cannot afford for people to become cynical and demoralised as a result of negative campaigning,” said the archbishop.
With at least 48 political parties anticipated to participate in the elections on 8 May 2019, Makgoba said the ECCOC was established to monitor and encourage compliance with the Electoral Code of Conduct, which encourages an environment of free and fair participation in the electoral process by political parties, voters and citizens in general.
“It seeks to create an environment of co-operation and nation building in a highly emotive situation as political parties vie for the support of the voting public,” he said.