JOHANNESBURG - For some years now, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has used SMSes as a campaigning tool in and out of election season, but the strategy hasn't been widely appreciated and has landed the party in hot water recently.
The DA has become infamous for sending unsolicited SMSes to the public to vote for it and warn against voting for the ANC (with reasons provided, of course).
If you'd had a telemarketer call you to tell you about an unsolicited offer "you simply can't refuse", you would be forgiven for not appreciating a spam SMS from a political party either.
This strategy has invoked the ire of the public, particularly because many haven't voluntarily submitted their numbers to the party, and/or aren't DA voters (or voters at all, for that matter).
As recently as a few days ago, during voter registration weekend, the DA landed itself in hot water after sending an SMS that said the ANC and EFF are working together to expropriate private homes and property.
Some felt the language was laden with apartheid-style 'swart gevaar' language used by the oppressive regime to stoke fears of black people among whites.
At first, the party denied this was an official communication from the party, but later did a U-turn and admitted it was indeed approved.
Speaking to Eyewitness News, DA national spokesperson Refiloe Nt'sekhe says the party gets people's numbers from data providers as well as their own database that is compiled from information submitted when engaging with the public in communities.
WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY?
The good news is that Section 45 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECTA) does state that unsolicited spam SMSes are prohibited if you did not opt into receiving them and each SMS must provide you with the option to stop or opt out.
The bad news is that ECTA only applies to commercial bodies or companies and doesn't include political parties, so the DA isn't breaking any law.
HOW TO STOP GETTING THE SMSes
The DA has provided an unsubscribe option on its website for those who no longer wish to receive the SMSes.
You need to indicate whether you'd like to stop receiving all forms of electronic communication from the party (SMSes, emails and phone calls) and that you never want to be contacted by the DA again.
This article first appeared on EWN : No fan of the DA's SMSes? Here's how to stop getting them