#ZumaMustFall poster: “You need to stop that f**king s**t!”

Zuma Must Fall protests on Reconciliation Day in Jo'burg. (David Harrison, MG)

Zuma Must Fall protests on Reconciliation Day in Jo'burg. (David Harrison, MG)

It’s not just about the grins, sunshine, and guessing games as to who put the Zuma Must Fall poster up in Cape Town. As the poster continues to draw attention, more people in the city are becoming vocal in their criticism – including at least one resident inside the building where the poster sits. 

“You need to stop that fucking shit!,” a man yelled from his window to a worker installing the Zuma Must Fall poster right outside his home in the building. 

A few minutes later Sizwe Mogale, who works in human resources, emerged from the building, continuing to shout. Photos of the poster have gone viral on social media, and Mogale first got wind of his building’s new look when he saw pictures on Twitter.
He came home during lunchtime to see it for his own eyes, before phoning his building managers, Trafalgar, for clarity. 

“You have this piece of prime real estate which is facing over Long Street, and then you’ve got independent outside media who happens to rent it out. So, I called Trafalgar to talk about this (poster), and Trafalgar knew nothing about it,” the 35-year-old, who lives in the apartment block, said. “They want to blame the body corporate, and we don’t get names as to who the body corporate is either,” Mogale told the Mail & Guardian, as he stood outside his building’s entrance.

The apartment building is one the most well-known in the Cape Town CBD because of the advertising billboards that are placed on the face of the building. The large adverts usually stay up for two to three months before they are replaced. Situated on the corner of Kloof Street and Buitengesel Street, and looking over, Cape Town’s nightlife hotspot in Long Street, the building is considered one of the most essential advertising real estate spots in the city, particularly because the area attracts both locals and tourists. 

But this advert differs from the posters that are usually cast around Mogale’s window. For Mogale, the problem lies in his building, and the residents inside, being associated with a political slogan without their consent.

 “As a resident, as a person who lives here, if you’re a commercial person making your money, I don’t have a problem. This is not commercial. This is you, using where we live to make your own political statement. This is making the building to be an anti-Zuma building, and I might be anti-Zuma, but you’ve got to consult and you got to at least give us the option to say yes or no,” he said.  

Unable to get answers on who was behind the poster, Mogale tried making calls to a few people who may have the power to get the slogan down.

 “I tried to call Luthuli House, they were at lunch. I called the ANC branch down here, and I said I’ve got keys into the building, we can go straight to the top, and we’ll stop this shit,” Mogale said. 

The anonymous nature of the poster was also a concern for Mogale, who said that political parties placed their name on their posters, making it clear who was make the statement. The curiosity behind who had placed the Zuma Must Fall sign on his home, meant that it was a political slogan without a face. 

“We have adverts here all the time, which is fine. This is not an advert, this is a political slogan, which is also anonymous, which is cowardice,” Mogale emphatically said as he stood in the shade outside the McDonald’s. “At the end of the day, I’m really cheesed off because we live here, we don’t get a say in this and we’re supposed to sleep in a building that has this slogan.”

In the noisy, traffic-filled streets surrounding the poster, people stopped and took photographs throughout the day. A street trader described it as one of his busiest days this year, while a passer-by standing near him joked that the Democratic Alliance might be behind the poster. DA spokesperson Phumzile van Damme has denied that the party is responsible for the billboard. 

Reaction to the poster remains divided in the city. Inside the McDonald’s, lunchtime visitors spoke almost exclusively about the slogan. “You’ve been getting a lot of PR today,” a patron told a supervisor at the franchise, who shrugged and replied, “We’ll see how it goes”. Another two customers chatted among themselves while waiting for their food, with one saying, “it’s good man, did you see the ANC’s birthday cake this year?”, pointing out some of the expenditure of the ANC’s 104 Anniversary celebrations. 

Meanwhile, across the road, Professor Hlongwane, a petrol attendant at the Shell station, had been observing the poster all day. Hlogwane said a white man in a white #ZumaMustFall t-shirt had come to the petrol station, and told him that he was responsible for the poster. 

For Hlogwane, the poster is an example of wasteful expenditure, leaving him with one question: “How is this going to help us?”.

The Zuma Must Fall poster has since been taken down.

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather