The BBC World Service has on the 22nd of January, 2018 sought the expertise of Dr. Kobby Mensah, a Political Marketing Strategist and a lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School on issues pertaining to the current political situation in Zimbabwe.
It is reported that over the weekend, the chairman of ruling party ZANU-PF which has been in power since 1980 admonished party faithfuls to start wearing party paraphernalia adorned with the images of their new leader, President Emerson Mnangagwa.
Speaking on the subject, Dr. Mensah indicated that the practice of branding party regalia and paraphernalia with the images of flagbearers has been a norm in Africa since the 1950's. Dr Mensah backed his observation citing the example of Ghana's first Prime minister, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
According to him there are three strategies a party would consider during political campaigning which is, to be branded with the characteristics of the choice candidate, the ideological position of the party or its emblem. He stated however that candidate-centred political branding is predominant in Africa because leaders represent something symbolic, referring again to Dr. Nkrumah who was perceived as a symbol of freedom and a new phase of African politics.
He indicated that it has been a common practice for the candidate's characteristics to be used as the brand of a political party because the candidates usually represent a particular message that the party wants to put across to the masses. Subliminal messages of freedom, a resilient spirit and mind-set for example represents a particular image in the minds of the people which the parties seek to appeal to. This he said serves as a platform to accentuate their leadership beyond the first and second elections therefore using the image of the candidate as a marketing tool is more powerful than ideologies and even the emblem of the party.
Speaking on the expected longevity of this strategy in Africa, Dr. Mensah was of the opinion that it is unlikely for a strategy which has lasted years after independence to go away anytime soon. He however noted that political parties must reconsider their approach to electioneering strategies, taking into cognisance differences in voter segments, and targeting them with specific values to meet their needs, as opposed to the one cup fit all approach that they have been using all these years.
To listen to the full BBC World Service interview with Dr. Mensah, please click on the link below:
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