The Cult of Image in Zimbabwe’s 2023 Elections
In the lead-up to Zimbabwe’s 2023 elections, an intriguing phenomenon has taken shape: the portrayal of incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa as an invincible demigod, adored by the masses. Under the 4ED banner, a web of personality fan clubs has arisen, celebrating Mnangagwa’s image and leadership. The coined term “All hail Emperor Emmerson” aptly captures the essence of this movement.
As the electoral landscape mirrors previous patterns of bias in favour of the ruling party, and opposition campaigns strive to surmount obstacles, a distinct shift emerges this year. The focus now centers on crafting a cult of personality around President Mnangagwa. Elaborate efforts leave no stone unturned in creating an illusion of an unbeatable, godlike leader, worshiped by all.
Rallies become grand showcases of this endeavour, as hundreds of buses traverse the nation, transporting attendees from all corners. The tactics involve coercion and incentives, including the usual threats and tangible rewards, often adorned with the leader’s smiling face.
Under the 4ED umbrella, numerous sectors of society have birthed their own fan clubs, an apparent display of grassroots support. However, despite these orchestrated efforts, the moment of truth arrives when the leader steps onto the stage to address the masses. It’s here that the veneer applied by campaign strategists can begin to wash off.
Join “Spotlight on Zimbabwe” as we delve into this captivating narrative—how image and illusion interplay with the dynamics of leadership and power in a political arena.