Rights Over Fans? – the question celebrities should ask themselves
Should we feel betrayed by well-known musicians and actors who publicly declare their allegiance to a political party? Should public image and fans come before their constitutional right of freedom of association and the right to freedom of conscious, religion, thought, belief and opinion? Political parties are renowned for lavish political campaigns during election season that involve expensive cars, hot bikini babes, trendy party regalia, big parties and offer loads of entertainment. Political rallies often are huge parts of the budget spend and well-known musicians are invited to perform… but recently, rallies are not the only place where artists voice their allegiance, but on social networks too. Celebrities have been spotted posting pictures on various social media websites wearing political party regalia in the wake of the up-coming municipal elections. Many have found it this misleading and expressed their distaste on social media where AKA in particular was being criticised by fans for publicly showing support for the ruling party. However, he is not the only one, performer Dr Malinga, rapper Ricki Rick and actress and presenter Minnie Dlamini have all been spotted with political party Regalia on their social media sites. This poses the question, should celebrities be involved in politics? In America we saw the same thing happening when President Barack Obama was contesting the elections in 2012 and got re-elected. We saw international artists such as the Power Couple Beyonce and Jay Z publicly support President Obama and the likes of Kanye West and Oprah Winfrey who is the second most admired woman in America. It was reported by ABC news, that Oprah drew roughly a crowd of 18 500 people in support for the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. It is no secret that the most impressionable people are the youth who are big followers of artists and their work, and the question is therefore becomes is it unfair for artists to subject their fans to this form of persuasive techniques for the sake of the highest bidder? Or does that not count when it comes to politics and our democracy? Especially when it is masked propaganda directed at the younger generation who will be voting. The South African Constitution however firmly supports the artists’ freedom to associate with any political organisation. Section 19, of the Bill of Rights states: “Every citizen is free to make political choices, which includes the b.) To participate in the activities of, or recruit members for, a political party; and c.) to campaign for a political party or cause. “ Furthermore, one can argue that having celebrities in the face of national politics may be a good move because it could be an effective strategy to encourage those who do not normally vote to be active participants in the process of democracy. Micampus went on the ground to find out what the youth have to say about this issue: Tshepo Mokoena, a second year student had to say “It is unfair, however they do have the right to do whatever they wish”. Shoki Sebela a third year student shares her sentiments; “I think some celebrities ride the political wave to get public exposure of their own. I don’t thinks it is unfair for the celebrity to pledge allegiance but it is unfair on the public at large” Tumi Mokone a Wits third year student disagrees, and shares “If I was a celebrity I’d cash in too fam, it’s all about the money really and everybody has a price, so I feel like these celebs must do them hey”. Zintle Sibeko also a third year student shares her views on the matter and states that “I think it depends on the kind of celebrity we talking about. Because when it comes to people like Bonang and AKA ect. It is expected that they would put themselves first, but if we talking about a CEO of an NGO company or of the SABC or the SAA then they cannot use their reputation to influence the masses in a manipulative manner to suit their selfish agendas just because they occupy a position of prestige.” Junior Dlamini a final year student agrees with the sentiment, Rights over fans and expresses “In my opinion celebrities are human too just like any other individual in this country they have the freedom to express their views, opinions and party that they are rooting for. Political parties use whatever and whoever to get as much votes as possible. So I wouldn’t say that using celebrities to gain votes is unfair, I would rather say it is another strategy to gain votes” by Kelebogile Mojanaga HAVE YOUR SAY: What do you have to say about this issue? Drop your comments on our social media sites and let’s keep the conversation going.