‘Mine is big­ger than yours’

All par­ties are guilty of ‘sta­di­u­mol­ogy’ but there’s no con­nec­tion be­tween the num­bers and elec­toral sup­port

CityPress - - News - S’THEMBILE CELE and SETUMO STONE news@city­press.co.za

All the political par­ties have ex­ag­ger­ated their attendance fig­ures at ral­lies this year, be­cause all of them have suf­fered added pres­sure to fill up sta­di­ums. This is ac­cord­ing to a new phe­nom­e­non termed “sta­di­u­mol­ogy”. City Press checked the num­bers at some of the big political ral­lies held over the past few months.

We found that none of the attendance fig­ures an­nounced by party lead­ers matched the ac­tual num­bers – pro­vided by sta­dium man­age­ment – of peo­ple who ac­tu­ally went through the turn­stiles.

The game be­gan when rap­per Cassper Ny­ovest vowed to #Fil­lUpTheDome in Novem­ber. A few weeks later, the EFF an­nounced that they would #Fil­lUpOr­lando.

Ac­cord­ing to EFF spokesper­son Mbuyiseni Nd­lozi: “Sta­di­u­mol­ogy was coined by the ANC af­ter it failed to fill up a sta­dium in Nel­son Man­dela Bay. It is a term that comes from the em­bar­rass­ment they suf­fered there when they started to play down the re­al­ity that, in pol­i­tics ev­ery­where, pop­u­lar democ­racy de­pends on the num­bers.”

Fol­low­ing the rul­ing party’s dis­ap­point­ment in Port El­iz­a­beth, their spokesper­son, Zizi Kodwa, wrote a scathing state­ment on the me­dia’s ob­ses­sion with so-called sta­di­u­mol­ogy, say­ing that whether it even trans­lated into votes at the polls re­mained to be seen.

“The ANC owes its po­si­tion to an over­whelm­ing pub­lic man­date – and we are not in­tim­i­dated by sta­di­u­mol­ogy and its warped rea­son­ing.”

DA spokesper­son Phumzile Van Damme agrees with Kodwa, say­ing that while sta­di­ums give sup­port­ers a chance to come into con­tact with the party, “there is THE­UNS KRUG no cor­re­la­tion be­tween the size of these events and ac­tual elec­toral sup­port. A party may fill a sta­dium but end up with only a small per­cent­age of the vote.”

Still, with every sta­dium event that comes and goes, so­cial me­dia is abuzz with pic­tures of all an­gles of the sta­dium, and those par­tic­i­pat­ing via Twit­ter de­mand the ex­act time each pic­ture was taken.

Political an­a­lyst Pro­fes­sor Tinyiko Maluleke says the added pres­sure comes from what he calls “crunch year”, es­pe­cially for the rul­ing party.

“There is marketing mileage to be made from a full sta­dium, but also psychological mileage – if we can fill up a sta­dium, it means a lot more peo­ple out there sup­port us,” says Maluleke.

“Be­yond that, there is noth­ing sci­en­tific about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a sta­dium and a na­tion,” he says.

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