The DA is determined to change the perception of its leadership by painting the ruling party as the one acting like the National Party (NP), which imposed apartheid policies in 1948.
The Mail & Guardian is in possession of a DA draft document that will be used as part of the campaign for next year's election and is meant to "expose how the ANC and the NP governments run parallel".
The document states that the longer the ANC governs, the stronger the parallels will become to that "which we had hoped would never happen again".
The document compares the levels of police violence and the use of legislation to suppress democracy and personal freedom under both governments. It also focuses on what it calls "the rise of Zulu nationalism and racist rhetoric" under the ANC government.
Under the heading "police violence and brutality" the DA states that "as was the case with apartheid, the ANC is using the police to suppress criticism of its government".
It makes a controversial visual comparison between two people at the hands of riot police: the iconic image of student Hector Pieterson's dead body during the 1976 Soweto uprising and that of Ficksburg activist Andries Tatane, 35 years later. The DA also draws parallels between the killing of 34 mineworkers by police in Marikana last August to the Sharpeville massacre under the apartheid government in 1960, when police randomly opened fire on a crowd of black people, killing 69.
This image was taken from the DA's election campaign document.
The DA's Western Cape leader, Ivan Meyer, confirmed that the document will be discussed at the Western Cape launch of the party's election campaign in Cape Town next month.
"It will be used during the elections campaign to say to the voters: the ANC is on a journey of the NP," said Meyer.
The "research" was commissioned by the DA in the Western Cape and other provinces are free to use it, said Meyer.
He said there would be more than one pamphlet with different pictures. During gatherings, the story will be told in the form of PowerPoint presentations with 80 slides to show the story in pictures.
The document is accompanied by a "political narrative", which is a pamphlet of graphic pictures of police brutality under the NP juxtaposed with those of recent years under the ANC government.
"If you look closely at the images the media is bombarding the world with, it comes as a great shock to see that very little seems to have changed in South Africa," it reads. "This is very much like the South Africa we thought we left behind on April 27 1994. By all accounts, it looks like the wheel has come full circle."
The accompanying narrative adds: "Police brutality is an aspect that was almost legendary in the apartheid years. More than 50 years after Sharpeville, the ANC government is using the police force to do their dirty work.
Lack of political will
"The poor training and lack of political will [have] turned the police force into a monster, to fear and not to serve and protect. Deaths in police custody as a result of police actions have risen."
The ANC has responded angrily to this. When told about the document, ANC national spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said it was low for the DA to use such tragic events such as Marikana and the Tatane killing for political gain.
"Let them not play on the emotions of our people as they touch on Marikana and Tatane," he said. "There is a world of difference between the ANC and the NP … and people will see through what the DA is doing."
Mthembu cited the fact that, after each event took place, the ANC reaction was to call for those responsible to be brought to book.
"We were livid and horrified that we saw those visuals on our TV when Tatane was killed. We immediately said whoever was responsible must be brought to book. The ANC-led government didn't need anybody to institute a commission of inquiry into what happened in Marikana. The NP never had inquiries; it was their policy to kill."
Reminiscent of apartheid
The DA document also accuses the ANC of borrowing from the NP rulebook, using legislation to suppress the freedom given by the Constitution to prevent criticism, block transparent government and, recently, to try to persecute those who act against them.
Pleading the National Key Points Act to avoid answering about the use of public funds in President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla security upgrades is one of the highlighted examples.
"The apartheid government was well known for the legislation it implemented to make structural apartheid possible," reads the DA document. "This is an extremely cumbersome situation. The mere fact that the National Key Points Act is still on the books makes one doubt the ANC's commitment to an open and transparent government."
The introduction of the controversial Protection of State Information Bill and what the DA calls its "cousin", the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill, are also cited as being reminiscent of apartheid.
Voters will also hear about the alleged resurgence of ethnic nationalism and racism under Zuma's ANC. The DA claims that, as with the NP's strong reliance on cronyism and the inflation of the civil service with loyal Afrikaners, the ANC's primary way of creating jobs was to hand out political favours to those who are loyal to the party. It accuses Zuma of practising a measure of Zulu nationalism when it comes to cadre deployment.
Mthembu said the ANC will base its own campaign on facts and will defend its track record of delivery and of human rights. "It's not our style to rubbish any party or anybody in our campaign," he said.