Mugabe Attempts To Woo Young Voters

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s campaign team this week resorted to hip-hop lyrics in a bid to woo younger voters to vote for the 84-year-old veteran leader during the June 27 presidential election run-off against rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

 

The campaign team, comprising radio and television personalities Tichafa Matambanadzo, Makhosini Hlongwane and Hugo Ribatika, yesterday flighted an advertisement featuring the late American rap star Tupac Shakur. They are working with advertising agency, Imago.

The shift in Mugabe’s media message comes after Tsvangirai out-polled him during the March 29 presidential election.

The party has placed a full-page colour advertisement that sampled the lyrics of Shakur who was killed in a drive-by shoot in Las Vegas 12 years go.

Zanu PF sampled Tupac’s early hit Keep ya head up from his album Strictly for my NIGGAZ in an attempt to encourage Zimbabweans to be resilient in the face of biting economic hardships characterised by a record inflation rate, high unemployment and acute food shortages.

It is a song which implores men to “be real to our women”. It also encourages women to be strong in a patriarchal society.

“I know it seems hard sometimes but remember one thing,” read, the advert. “Through every dark night, there’s a bright day after that. So no matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out, keep ya head up…”

Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe head Andy Moyse said the new campaign message was an attempt to appeal to the urban youth.

“This is an attempt to appeal to the urban youth,” Moyse said. “It sounds like it is from the liberation war. However, one should ask why the state media is not carrying advertising material for the other presidential candidate (Tsvangirai).”

Mugabe’s critic and university lecturer John Makumbe described the campaign as a “desperate last attempt by an expired regime”.

During the run-up to the March 29 harmonised elections Zanu PF campaigned using its trademark “revolutionary” campaign messages that portrayed Mugabe as a hero of the 1970s liberation war.

In a related development, the country’s sole broadcaster, ZBC, this week suspended seven senior journalists for “misconduct” in what inside sources have termed a crackdown on “unpatriotic” personnel.

The seven, who were suspended on Tuesday pending dismissal, are television services general manager Robson Mhandu, news editor Patrice Makova, and producers Monica Gavhera, Sibonginkosi Mlilo and Lawrence Maposa.

Two reporters, Brian Paradza and Robert Tapfumaneyi, were also suspended.

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) president Mathew Takaona criticised the suspensions, which he called irrational and motivated by political considerations.

“The suspension is an unfair labour practice and we suspect that it is politically motivated,” he said. “It is unfortunate that this is being implemented on professionals. The new management has overreacted. It is irrational, illogical and the move will further cripple an already grounded station.”

ZUJ demanded an immediate reinstatement of the journalists without loss of benefits.

By Bernard Mpofu