The #ReelStuff campaign has caused quite a stir over the local election period for using local celebrities to endorse the ANC.
One segment of the voting population that continues to elude the voting process and is of particular interest to politicians is the young, and specifically, first-time voters.
Every four years, political parties attempt to romance these young voters. Enlisting the support of idolized celebrities is a common tactic used to urge first-time voters to cast their ballot.
The #ReelStuff campaign, under the ANC banner, has raised some eyebrows over the municipal elections period for doing just that. Hundreds of social media users have voiced their concerns on the campaign and its use of local celebrities.
According to local rapper Da Les, the #ReelStuff movement aims to profile the greater Johannesburg region and implement special projects and initiatives focusing on the urban youth market under the ANC banner.
“I chose to be part of the campaign based on the fact that the political party I chose to vote for needed a facelift and it is important for all the people who support the ANC to take a look at what they have done,” he said.
Other celebrities who form part of the movement include AKA, Mpho Popps, Ayanda Thabethe, Shugasmakx, Amunishn, Dj Shimza, and other familiar faces such as Nompendulo Mkatshwa, president of the Wits SRC, and socialites Tshepi Vundla, Kefiboo, K Naomi and Shaka Sisulu.
In the build up to local elections, the intensity of the campaign increased as many of these celebrities took to social media to openly show their support for the ANC by posting pictures of themselves at ANC rallies and events using the hashtag #ReelStuff while sporting #ReelStuff merchandise.
Da Les told Wits Vuvuzela the name came about as celebrities wanted to show the “reelstuff” the ruling party has done for South Africans. “We want to make people understand and look back at what the ANC has done for our country,” he said.
The campaign has not gone without criticism. Brand Strategist for Ninepoint, Nabeela September, says if political parties are paying celebrities to rally in their name, there is a possibility of it coming off as propaganda.
“Celebrities are individuals with opinions and beliefs. They have the right to freedom of speech, but they must be willing to deal with the possibility of their name being tainted should the political party they openly support gain a negative image,” she says.
“Naturally, celebrities have a following, therefore the main reason political parties endorse celebrities would be to gain the vote of their fans, an action that is questionable,” says September.
However, for Da Les, “Supporting the ANC is a no brainer. They have supported me in my music and have made the things I am able to do today possible.”
In the weeks leading up to the elections, AKA tweeted: “The ANC is in our hearts and our minds. We all stray from time to time…The ANC is in our hearts. We cannot ignore it.”
Twitter user @iamBonganii responded: “Lemme tell you something kido, just becoz celebrities say we should vote ANC doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.”
Another user, @kanyiVV tweeted: “Unfortunately you have no influence on us voting for the ANC…You must stop exaggerating your importance.”
“Whether people vote for the ANC or not, music is a universal language. As long as my fans support me for my music, I do not believe that supporting a political party will affect my career,” said Da Les.