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The battle for endorsements: Who’s got the million dollar endorsement?

 

The 2016 Local Government Elections have been seen as the most tightly contested election for the ANC in its history.

A recent visit by the EFF to former president Thabo Mbeki’s home caused quite a stir on social media and made headline news. The visit set tongues wagging, with many questioning whether this could be seen as some sort of endorsement for the EFF.

In a statement released shortly after the visit, the EFF stated that the former president visited the party for two reasons namely, to canvass his vote and to formally introduce its leadership to him as the party is a significant player in the political space in South Africa.

Early July saw Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau paying him a visit, in what was believed to be a meeting to ask for his support.

A day after meeting with Economic Freedom Fighters leaders, Thabo Mbeki has met with the ANC’s Gauteng mayoral candidates, Thoko Didiza, Parks Tau and Mzwandile Masina at his home on Tuesday.

The ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile said Mbeki’s endorsement of the party would play a huge role in their bid to win municipalities. Veterans such as Tokyo Sexwale and Mendi Msimang also called for Mbeki to campaign for the party.

Despite ANC leaders and veterans calling on Mbeki to canvass for the ANC, he has been notably absent from rallies on the campaign trail.

The ANC Gauteng leadership last week said it had accepted Mbeki would not campaign for the party, and that it would not beg him to garner votes for the ruling party.

In a quest to garner more votes the ANC brought other veterans of the movement to rally behind them and campaign.  In the past month veterans such as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Kgalema Motlanthe and Ahmed Kathrada have been seen putting their weight behind the ANC.

Madikizela-Mandela also came out slamming the DA for using Mandela’s name during their election campaign.

The DA released an advert on YouTube, which uses excerpts of Nelson Mandela’s recordings, calling for peace and justice. This was seen some sort of endorsement from the late iconic statesman and leader of the ANC. The DA also put up posters last week saying, “Honour Madiba’s dream; Vote DA”.

The ANC and the Mandelas have highly criticised the DA, stating that Mandela would have never endorsed the DA.

The growth of celebrity endorsements has been notable during the 2016 local government elections; this has worked very well in American politics, especially in the Obama campaigns.

Political Analyst, Prof Somadoda Fikeni, says: “We are seeing is in the South African political sphere at the moment political parties adopting some of the American trends, one of those trends focuses on endorsements by artists, celebrities and political leaders and former leaders…”

By Zinziswa Mani

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