It seems using online social networking tools to furthering electioneering campaigns is not the only feature of Barack Obama’s successful drive for the presidential seat that has been copied by our own parties.
Celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Wyclef Jean and Aretha Franklin got behind Obama and it seems both the ANC and, lately, the DA are jumping on the celebrity endorsement bandwagon.
While the ANC have collared local celebs such as Arthur Mafokate, Chomee and Phil Masinga in their door-to-door campaigns in a number of constituencies, the DA have musicians such as alternative Afrikaans rockers Van Coke Kartel, Jackal & Wolf and Zinkplaat performing for them.
They endorsed the DA at a rock concert held in Stellenbosch on Wednesday. (15/04/2009)
DA provincial events manager Shaun Mossitt said the artists approached them and asked them if they could have a concert in Stellenbosch to try and mobilise students to vote for the DA.
“We didn’t pay them, all we did was to pay for all the production and marketing costs, they were just playing in this concert to show their support for the party,” said Mossitt.
And he said today (18/04/2009) last year’s South African Pop Idols winner Jody Williams would be performing at their Mitchell’s Plain rally.
Linking politics to popular culture was a good idea, said independent political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi, especially when it came to reaching the youth.
“It does not hurt if a party gets a respectable celebrity that is seen as a role model.”
But Matshiqi there was always a risk for the artists that their political involvement could backfire.
If their choice was not the same as their fans, it could impact negatively on sales. But at the same time the quality of the work would also be a deciding factor when it came to the loyalty of their fan base.
Gallo Music South Africa Marketing Manager Tsholo Maroba said it whether or not to join a political campaign was really up to the artists.
“If you remember from the old days, artists like Miriam Makeba and Lucky Dube had songs that were political. Artists are social figures with support and so if they support a party that might be in power it’s in their best interest,” said Maroba.
Marketing Manager of Ghetto Ruff records, Mpumi Phillips, said their stable didn’t have artists campaigning for any political organisation in these elections because they were either too busy or were not interested in much else besides their music.
“Artists have been campaigning for political parties for a long time all over the world, and so if turns out that an artists is interested or has been approached by a certain political party then it becomes a personal choice. We just give the artists the pro and cons of associating themselves with political parties because their fans may not necessarily support the party they choose, and that might lead to them losing their own support,” added Phillips.
Interviewed while on the ANC campaign trail in Cape Town in February, Mafokate said he had been an ANC member since Mandela came out of prison and supporting the party came naturally to him.
He said he worked for the ANC during previous campaigns.
“Celebrities are not forcing people to vote for the ANC, people can support whichever party they choose.”
Likewise, he said celebrities could support whatever party they chose. – West Cape News