Celebs put the party into politics

2014-04-20 15:00

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It’s 7.42pm on Thursday at the News Cafe in the upmarket northern Joburg suburb of Woodmead.

Young black professionals sit on black couches tinged with purple. Wine flows and the House music pumps. Enter

Meshack Mavuso?–?better known as Vusi Moletsane in Isidingo –?whom the ANC has tasked to campaign in the posh pub.

He immediately turns heads in his black “I am ANC” T-shirt. Patrons get up and gather around him shaking his hand, while others ask to take

pictures with him. He hands them ANC T-shirts and asks if they will be voting for the party.

The fans answer with an unequivocal “yes” and walk away with a spring in their step.

Mavuso says: “I am a proud member of the ANC. I am a card-carrying member. I’m in good standing with the ANC and that’s why I decided to go out there and protect my party.”

He goes from table to table handing out T-shirts and telling people why they should vote for the ANC. Adoring fans listen intently, nod vigorously and check the T-shirt sizes to ensure a good fit.

“For sure, boss, ke tlo vouta ka di 7 [I’ll definitely vote on the 7th]. Yah, yah, ANC,” says one patron.

But some people aren’t impressed. Two young black women shake their heads and refuse the T-shirts.

“Sorry, we aren’t ANC supporters,” says one.

“Sorry, hey, I don’t know what the ANC has done for me. They are corrupt, I mean this Nkandla thing is too much,” she replies with a twang.

“Why do you have so much hatred for the ANC? You seem young, what do you know about the ANC?” asks Mavuso. He tells them they should teach themselves about the party. It’s not

the one they read about in newspapers or that “[DA leader Helen] Zille tweets about when she’s bored”.

He adds: “Even this nice English you are speaking is because of the ANC. Do you think you would be here drinking pink drinks if it wasn’t for them?”

The second woman seems unsure now and asks for a T-shirt. She doesn’t check the size.

Mavuso is not the only celebrity

rooting for the ANC here tonight?–?radio personality Lupi Ngcayisa is also in the house. He has used his Twitter account to encourage people to vote for the party.

Pinkie Numa, the party’s Gauteng events coordinator, says: “Lupi is ANC through and through. We also have sports personalities and other famous people.”

She shows City Press videos of local stars on the I AM ANC Instagram page. Hip-hop star AKA, socialite Khanyi Mbau and actress Thembi Seete appear on the page,

pledging their allegiance to the ANC.

Although victory for the ANC is assured, the association could be risky for the celebs, according to Sylvester Chauke, the chief architect at DNA Brand Architects.

He says political parties use ­celebrities to connect with voters.

He reckons it’s “cheap politicking”, but it works.

“The ANC has found a way to reach all demographics in South Africa. The soap stars attract the mums, dads and aunts. The sports personalities get the fanatics, and the likes of Meshack [Mavuso] bring in the young professionals.

“It is about making the political party relevant everywhere, from townships to suburbs, from the village to the city.”

But he cautions: “If something happens in the ANC, your supporters will ask you to answer to it. It’s like following a soccer team. If they lose, you share the shame.”

A soundtrack for the “blue wave”

It’s not just the ANC that is ­represented by actors, singers and prominent personalities.

Singer Majola, whose real name is Khanyisa Buti, recorded a campaign song, Believe in Change, for the DA’s Mmusi Maimane.

The song features the lyrics: “Elections are made here in this place/ determined to conquer adversity/ make it a home for all to live/ Gauteng, believe in change/ Gauteng, know there’s hope.”

Says Majola: “I wrote the song in support of Maimane and what he stands for. Maimane talked about the exclusion of some from the inner circle and, as a performer, I have been ­excluded from a number of ­performances because I am not politically connected.

“I’ve been going to the ANC for projects and been rejected. The industry is segmented by political connections.

“The true artist will always be the conscience of society. Miriam Makeba sang about apartheid to the world before it even knew about Nelson Mandela, so I am compelled to speak the truth as an artist.”

He says he’s been called a traitor by some because of his involvement with the DA.

“People think I am a traitor, but I stand for truth. The ANC leaders must be credited for what they’ve done, but we aren’t being led by people who have the know-how,” he says.

“This is a wasteful government with a wasteful ideology.”

His support for the DA goes ­beyond the musical. Majola says he will vote for the DA.

“I’m voting for the future, the future that is Mmusi ­Maimane,” says Majola, who is originally from the Eastern Cape. –?Thuletho Zwane

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