31 May 2017

SFJP collects posters at the #AntiZumaMarch

Some of the messages of protest on posters during the anti Zuma marches in Pretoria

The rise of popular movements is on the increase. The last two months have seen a coming together of opposition parties that has not been seen before. There have been several marches where opposition parties and civil society came together to protest against President Jacob Zuma and corruption in South Africa. There was also a 'Peoples' march, also known as #AntiZumaMarch which was organised by civil society.

As an activist archive, SAHA has taken on the task to document the posters of some of these movements as they take shape and grow. Members of the Struggles For Justice Programme (SFJP) team went out to retrieve posters from the Peoples march organized in Pretoria and a Democratic Alliance (DA) march in Johannesburg during the protests. Similar poster retrieval activities were undertaken in 2016 during the municipal elections.

“During and after the 1976 uprising, few organizations printed political posters. At most, people hand-lettered signs with words of … resistance” – Red on Black by Judy Seidman.

Earliest organizations to use graphics were student organizations. During the anti- apartheid struggle these poster collectives would print posters for marches. As a result of low printing costs and tools such as photo editing software it is relatively easy to create a poster.

The mass produced posters at the marches were typically associated to a political party or civil society group. There is a trend of political parties sporting specific colours and mass produced messages.

The party posters had definite themes and messages on them. For example:

‘“The People Vs Jacob Zuma”; “Fire Zuma” “Change 19” produced by the DA.

“Zupta must fall”; “Zupta must step down”; “Zuma must go”; “Fees must fall”; “Fees must fall”, Produced by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

“‘Defend our Democracy”; “Save our South Africa”; “No to State Capture”; “SA’s Wealth belongs to the people”; “The Seat of Government is Union buildings not Saxonwald” produced by SaveSA.

“Stop tax abuse”; “Hands off treasury" produced by OUTA

There were two kinds of posters, those that had been professionally printed by a political party or anti-partisan groups. Then there were those made by individuals. Either with hand written messages on paper and card board or that had been digitally created and then printed.

Humour, satire and popular culture references as tools of protest are common in the homemade poster movement. These echo the internet borne memes.

A collage of posters from the AntiZumaMarch which had humous elements

Zapiro has heavily influenced representations of Jacob Zuma in public opinion which can be seen by the frequency of the shower head appearing on posters.



Zuma depicted as a Tsotzi multiple times

The representation of Jacob Zuma as a Tsotsi 'stealing' from South Africa was a common motif.


Fence with posters attached outside of union buildings

At the end of the protest, posters were thrown away or placed on fences as a symbolic reminder of the growing dissenting views in South Africa. Some people gave away their posters to others at the protest. There was some bin diving done by SFJP members after the end of the march in order to gain a larger variety of posters.