South African politics needs better campaign ideas

There have been some ridiculous things that happen during South African political campaign seasons – who can forget that from awkward kiss between Helen Zille and Mamphela Ramphele? But it extends to actual campaign merchandise too, as The Daily Vox found out.

It is easy to hand out free t-shirts and a plate of food while campaigning for elections but some parties and people have taken it a few steps further. With the ANC’s National Conference taking place soon, ANC presidential candidates are doing the most to capture the vote of party members.

If you visit Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign website you will find t-shirt and cap logos to print your own merch. But best of all on this page are “struggle songs” about Ramaphosa and free-to download ringtones. One such ringtone is literally 29 seconds of someone singing “Ramaphosa my president” and ends with “Vote for Ramaphosa”.

But this has not been the first time we had politicians go out the way to make a statement while campaigning for party, local, or national power.

At the final ANC rally before the local elections in 2016 leaders of the party, Gwede Mantashe, Cyril Ramaphosa and Baleka Mbete, Zuma dabbed their way around Ellis Park Stadium. The dab was well received as it made for some of the best meme material of 2016. After ANC lost two powerful metros, people said the ANC “dabbed their way out of power”.

The ANC allegedly planned to spent R50 million to target opposition parties in the 2016 local government elections – some of it on Twitter. The leader of the team, according to papers filed to the Johannesburg High Court was Walter Sisulu’s grandson and activist Shaka Sisulu. If you consider that most Twitter users are from our metros, this was a failed campaign because, again, ANC lost the metros.

If you think those ANC leather jackets (which can be purchased at the low price of R3 000) that uncle Gwede use are ridiculous enough, you can also get you some leather shoes in ANC colours. These shoes are priced at R900 a pair and you can pick up a pair from their next rally.

In 2014, premier of the Western Cape Helen Zille, who was running as leader of the Democratic Alliance posted a picture on Twitter of her in a doek. Zille, who was reassured by the likes of Phumzile van Damme thought it was okay to do this but people were shook. This gave rise to the #StopZille2014 campaign. Unfortunately, it didn’t get Zille off Twitter or out or power.

The cherry on top of this campaign fails list is a song simply titled “ANC Campaign Video”. It awkwardly caricatures people of the Western Cape and was an attempt to appeal to these voters in 2014. The poorly-shot video features some pretty amazing voices but like the video says, MIND = BLOWN (in a bad way though).

If you think about it, 2019 is not that far away and with the next general elections set to be a game changer, we await more of these poorly throughout campaign ideas.

Featured image via Cyril Ramaphosa campaign website