'#ZumaMustFall banner message a positive one'

Workers erect the now infamous Zuma Must Fall banner. (Getty Images)

Workers erect the now infamous Zuma Must Fall banner. (Getty Images)

Never in his wildest dreams did the owner of the company that put up the “Zuma must fall” banner in Cape Town think it would lead to a violent fracas.

Speaking to building resident Sizwe Mogale in a telephone conversation which was later posted on SoundCloud on Sunday, Brent Dyssell, the managing director of Independent Outdoor Media, said the banner would not have been allowed otherwise.

In the 34-minute conversation with Mogale, who had blasted the company on social media after the video was put up, Dyssell said the banner was sponsored by a concerned private initiative and was meant to stimulate debate.

The large banner was put up in the Cape Town CBD on Friday morning.

It hugged one side of a block of flats at the top of Long Street, on the corner of Kloof and Buitensingel streets.

It was removed on Saturday by African National Congress supporters and members, who used knives and various sharp objects to tear it down.

Dyssell said the banner was just a social message and his company was merely the messenger.

He said it was not hate speech, or an advert, but a social message asking for good leadership. It had been spun into a racial issue, which it wasn’t, he said.

But he never thought it would blow up to the extent it had.

“No one in their wildest dreams would have foreseen that a group of people would break into the property, damage the property, over a sign. The message is a positive one, it’s meant to be one that stimulates debate. That is all, it’s not hate speech.”

He said the sign was already on Facebook and Twitter, and the banner was just an extension of the message.

“Honestly, I had no idea that such a social comment would have had the potential risk to property. I’m not in the business of endangering people’s lives. Am in the business of media. And am in the business of facilitating messages,” he said to Mogale.

Mogale expressed concern that the banner had been put up outside their building without consultation.

As the banner had not been an advert, but social commentary, it changed the playing field to a political one, instead of business, Mogale felt.

Dyssell said they never had to run every advert past the body corporate, but following the banner, they had now agreed to do so in future.

Since the banner went up, the City of Cape Town has lambasted the company, labelling the poster illegal.

Dyssell said, because it was about freedom of speech, the legalities of the banner were not even considered.

Throughout the conversation, Dyssell is adamant that he will not be able to name the person who paid for the poster, as that would go against business principles.

“This was simply a commentary on leadership and we are all concerned and this is all our futures at stake,” he said.

Attempts to get ahold of Dyssell on Tuesday failed. – News24

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