Hildegarde The Arena
THE election period is dubbed the silly season, and Zimbabwe’s 2018 harmonised election is promising to live up to that billing.
With more than 120 registered political parties claiming their desire to participate in this year’s plebiscite, it means voters are spoilt for choice. Thus, exciting days lie ahead of us because the number of political parties registered by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission are an indicator that democracy is alive in Zimbabwe.
Apart from the ruling Zanu-PF party led by its presidential candidate Cde Mnangagwa, the other parties contesting include the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance; the Thokozani Khupe MDC-T faction; Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party; Zapu, led by Dumiso Dabengwa; Elton Mangoma’s Coalition of Democrats (CODE); Build Zimbabwe Alliance led by Noah Manyika; Nkosana Moyo’s Alliance for the People’s Agenda (APA); the Ambrose Mutinhiri-led New Patriotic Front, to name but a few.
But the on-going exercise is not just about facts and figures. It is also about money. While lots of noise is made about elections being an expensive democratic process, we have not analysed the flip side of the coin that they are also a money-making venture for savvy entrepreneurs.
The 2018 election promises to be an election where political parties and independent candidates as well will have to dig deep in their pockets, in order for them to sell their messages effectively, to potential voters.
Star rallies and/or door-to-door campaigns alone will not bring the thousands of voters that aspiring candidates expect.
The message might be appealing and well-packaged, but the art of rhetoric alone will not do the job. With each election, we note that political messages are being packaged in multi-media formats.
These range from party regalia – be it T-shirts, berets, baseball caps, doeks/scarfs, fabric to make a variety of garments – to billboards, websites, social media platforms, tear drop banners, and more.
For political party candidates and their supporters to communicate that message that lures potential voters, it costs money — not small change.
With thousands of players on the electoral playing field, it also means that campaigning for political office is not only competitive, chic and professionally run, but it makes thousands of people smile all the way to the bank.
As the campaign trail takes candidates across the length and breadth of the nation, how much fuel will they use, and who is the winner at the end of the day?
Your guess is as good as mine – the various service stations.
The wear and tear on vehicles means that a number of garages and mechanics will be in business during the election season, and beyond.
Big political parties like Zanu-PF, which has a department of transportation also purchased a fleet of vehicles. This was a cost for them, but also an advantage for those involved in the whole supply chain.
Some political parties and/or politicians hire consultants to assist them during the various stages of the election period, and consultancy doesn’t come cheap. Every political party desires uniqueness, and we note that through the colours they use to brand themselves. These are carefully thought-out colour schemes. From these colours, we see fabrics, T-shirts, baseball caps, golf shirts, male and female outfits being made.
The past few months have already revealed what lies ahead in terms of party regalia. What this also means is that apart from purchasing the material, tailors all over the country are being kept busy as candidates and party supporters want to look good in those promotional materials. That means money for tailors.
Designers and printers are also being kept in business this election season, as the plethora of political parties publishes their manifestos, fliers, business cards, stickers, etc.
Every sector stands to gain financially during such a gigantic election: food and beverage industries; mobile network providers; the advertising industry – print and online; hospitality industry; interior decorators; taxis, etc.
The gigantic billboards put up by Zanu-PF for their presidential candidate Cde Mnangagwa, has been the major eye-opener for this writer.
It’s not one, or two, or three, but many billboards.
If this is repeated for parliamentary and local Government candidates, how much would Zanu-PF have parted with, and who stands to gain?
Researching on the topic of how citizens can monetise the election campaigns to best advantage, I picked up a number of proposals that can assist the electorate to view elections as a chance for them to make money.
On the website <profitaventure.com>, the writer says there are countless business opportunities during an election season.
The Nigerian micro-blogger writes assertively: “Do you know that billions of dollars circulate every election year in Nigeria and other countries of the world… Every day, on my way to the office, I see people at various newspaper stands, arguing and discussing the happenings in the country. When I see such people, I just laugh.
“Look!! There are so many business opportunities ‘in an election season.’ You don’t need to be a politician or a hired thug to make money from the Nigerian political system. You don’t need to risk your life fighting, carrying arms or snatching ballot boxes. There are some cool ways to make money from the upcoming elections.
“Whether you’re an enthusiast of politics or not, you too can tap from the money that goes around during the time of political election campaigns.”
He gives “10 smart ways to make money from political campaigns”, which include: venturing into custom-made T-shirts design business; social media marketing; graphic design of campaign and publicity materials; transport services; radio and TV shows; blogging for office holder aspirants; selling snacks, etc.
The blogger on <profitaventure.com> also says, there is money to be made even when one participates in campaign rallies: “In their bid to create the impression that they have garnered huge support, aspirants usually go the extra mile of hiring campaign rally participants who follow them everywhere. These participants are usually paid decently.”
While the mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business” might sound like it is for them and not you, it is time that people take ownership of the electoral process, and benefit financially, by engaging in the diverse entrepreneurial schemes.
Business openings abound, waiting to be discovered and exploited.
As inventor and businessman Thomas A. Edison wrote, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”