Mind your busi­ness, not the hype

CityPress - - Business - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@city­press.co.za

Stop be­liev­ing me­dia an­a­lysts. The He­len Zille Twit­ter scan­dal will not af­fect black DA sup­port­ers, just as the so-called Zupta scan­dals have failed to un­seat Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma. That is not ab­nor­mal. In­stead, it is very con­sis­tent with the ba­sic laws of mar­ket­ing: peo­ple who love a brand, love it with their hearts and not their minds. Love is ir­ra­tional.

This is the rea­son com­pa­nies spend bil­lions build­ing their brands; they want an emo­tional con­nec­tion with their con­sumers, an un­break­able bond that can with­stand all rea­son­able ar­gu­ments.

In pol­i­tics, this bond has al­ways been at the mercy of the main­stream me­dia, which dou­bles as the fun­nel of thought. In apartheid South Africa, po­lit­i­cal lead­ers needed to ro­mance a white jour­nal­ist if they wanted their ideas to reach the peo­ple. Steve Biko had Don­ald Woods and Robert Sobukwe had Ben­jamin Po­grund.

The black con­scious­ness move­ment and the African­ists re­fused to ac­cept white peo­ple in their organisation, while the Free­dom Char­ter al­liance did. This at­tracted many white jour­nal­ists, sym­pa­this­ers and, more im­por­tantly, donors. Many ac­tivists, such as Mo­siuoa Lekota, who went to jail as black con­scious­ness ac­tivists came back as char­ter­ists, for whom it was a lit­tle eas­ier to raise money for le­gal de­fence and fam­ily sup­port. One African­ist ac­tivist who was fac­ing a fur­ther 12 years in prison, af­ter spend­ing 10 years in jail, tells a story about how his at­tor­ney asked him if he didn’t want to switch sides so he could raise le­gal fees for the team of ad­vo­cates. He re­fused, and that com­pli­cated mat­ters.

In gen­eral, South African po­lit­i­cal lead­ers can be bought at rock-bot­tom prices, par­tic­u­larly where there is a large sup­ply of free booze, young women and some easy cash. As they have no moral guid­ing ide­ol­ogy, they bend their rhetoric to suit the ben­e­fit. Many claim to be pa­tri­otic yet they have no self-re­spect and sac­ri­fice the greater good so they can put their bums on the heated seats of Ger­man cars. They claim to love the soil but it only buries their legacy be­cause they have no re­gard for the fu­ture of the young spir­its that will ig­nite this land.

In the past few years we’ve seen how an­a­lysts con­tinue to get ev­ery­thing wrong. They laughed at Don­ald Trump and never re­alised the resur­gent wave of fas­cism that car­ried him. The me­dia didn’t see Brexit com­ing un­til the morn­ing of the re­sults, and they cer­tainly thought they had buried Labour’s Jeremy Cor­byn. He may be the prime min­is­ter-in-wait­ing.

New me­dia has al­ways favoured the un­der­dogs. We will see the rise of new po­lit­i­cal ide­olo­gies in South Africa, and it will all hap­pen out­side of the main­stream. So­cial me­dia is open­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties for black busi­nesses that now have new av­enues to reach new cus­tomers with­out re­ly­ing on ex­pen­sive main­stream infrastructure.

As for the black peo­ple who are de­pen­dent on sell­ing their wares or prod­ucts of their brains to earn a liv­ing – black busi­ness­peo­ple – we need to avoid the mind­less scream­ing matches that have be­come char­ac­ter­is­tic of South African de­bate and fo­cus on build­ing our busi­nesses. It is not easy, and it was never meant to be, and too much ef­fort is wasted on try­ing to dis­prove stu­pid­ity. The en­ergy that is ex­pended adds no value to any­one, and it cer­tainly doesn’t help busi­ness move for­ward. How dis­ad­van­taged are those who can­not sep­a­rate the noise from con­struc­tive talk?

Do not put too much faith in our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers. His­tory has shown that they are for sale. Be­lieve in your­self and use the power of so­cial me­dia, vic­tory is in sight. Kuzwayo is the founder of Ig­ni­tive,

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