The Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s main opposition party, said on Monday that it will write to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to lodge an official complaint against the Swedish retail giant H&M for the racist advert involving a black child modelling a racially-insensitive hoodie.

A storm has erupted in South Africa over the online advert that H&M posted on its website last week depicting a black child wearing a green hoodie with “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” written on the front.

H&M quickly removed the advert and apologised following global outrage, including from celebrities who vowed to terminate their association with the retailer.

DA national spokesperson, Refiloe Ntsekhe, said that the party was of the belief that H&M advert was in violation of the ICC’s marketing guidelines, especially its code of advertising and marketing communication practice which deals with respect human dignity and racial discrimination.

“It is clear that H&M have violated the ICC’s code of advertising with their racially-discriminatory advert,” Nt’sekhe said in a statement. 

“We therefore request that the ICC, as the foremost retail authority, fully investigate this incident and institute appropriate sanctions once an investigation has been completed.”

Nt’sekhe said the DA will also write to H&M South Africa to express the party’s deep concern over the advert, saying that it evoked painful sentiments among Black South Africans as well as the Black community abroad. 

Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), South Africa’s third biggest party, trashed H&M stores in Johannesburg and Pretoria over the weekend during their protest against the retailer’s advert. H&M stores remained closed on Sunday in fear of another attack while the police are investigating.

Nt’sekhe said that the DA strongly condemned destruction of property and vandalism. 

“The displays of violence at H&M stores across the country are totally unacceptable and violence is no way to fight racism but only compounds it,” Nt’sekhe said.

“The EFF’s method to fight racism crosses into a criminal act and that should be strongly condemned. The DA calls on the EFF leadership to find more constructive and appropriate means to fight the scourge of racism that’s still very present in our society.”

 – African News Agency (ANA)