By Tendai Chabvuta
Saying that Roki’s viewership numbers are “bought” makes you a hater in Zimbabwe. Complaining that Koffi Olomide mentioned President Mnangagwa in the collabo between him and Roki makes one an MDC supporter. Dancing to the song and praising Roki for a job well done makes you a ZANU PF supporter.
What to do, Son and Daughter of the Soil? Hate or Love Roki, Like or Dislike ZANU PF and be upset or not by Koffi Olomide’s “ED Number 1” chant, one thing is clear, the ““Patati Patata” ” song will be played on encore for some time to come by local Zimbabweans and those in the diaspora wherever they are across the globe. The song is a good one – not world class but good enough.
Roki is a star Zimbabwean musician who deserves to be supported. However, what is clear in all this is that Roki has been used to deliver such a masterstroke of a strategy to woo Zimbabwean youth to support ZANU PF and ED. He like other Zimbabwean artistes in the past will and have been used to draw attention, campaign, and distract Zimbabweans into supporting ZANU PF and ED without questions.
To get upset with Roki over this song is to get it all wrong and miss the point. The young man does not even have the mental wherewithal to fully comprehend what is going on here. Worse still, it is very doubtful whether he will even be paid enough to resurrect him from the poor state of affairs he has found himself in the most recent past. This “Patati Patata” song is a ZANU PF project meant to draw young people to ZANU PF communally and more personally for ED in preparation for the 2023 elections.
The 2023 election is about Presidential votes and getting more urban votes
As much as the 2023 election will be about the retention of power for ZANU PF, it will also be very personal for ED. After getting to power through the backdoor in 2018, ED will want to secure the much coveted “second term” and also do it through a resounding victory supported by the urban vote.
ZANU PF is always confident of the rural vote. To get the problematic “urban vote” ZANU PF and ED will have to appeal to the youth. For ED’s own legacy, he will need to score high votes in the Presidential election. The rural votes alone cannot be enough to guarantee that decency and supremacy.
While ZANU PF is pushing to get young people into farming, mining, business etc., the party would possibly not be able to capture everyone. The cake is not “shareable” with everyone. What would the chefs be left with? So those youth who fall out on the fringes will have to be captured through other means – deception, giving a false sense of hope for prosperity and better things to come through social media socialites like Passion Java and getting musicians like Roki to perform popular songs/national anthems will be one way.
Catch the young ones on “sosho media” as ED puts it
For ZANU PF, their consultants and advisors managed to smartly identify that for them to reach out to young people in Zimbabwe, the party needed to increase its footprints on social media: – FB, Twitter, IG, WhatsApp etc. For this to happen, interesting content needed to be created. ZANU PF could never do that on its own. So the strategy was to get local Zimbabwean hoodlums, comics and others who are famous on social media on board. Therein enters, Passion Java or “Peshen Zhava” as Koffi Olomide puts it.
The boy has a huge following on social media because of his antics and talk about money, hustling and his perceived links with the first family and ZANU PF. Zimbabwean youth follow this guy, they would rather starve but buy internet data to watch this guy’s theatrics on social media. What a way to get Zimbabwean youth to get hooked onto ZANU PF propaganda.
Passion Java has been seen with President Mnangagwa on several occasions even making some of his funny gaffes. If this is not endorsement from the highest office, then what else would be? In Zimbabwe, proximity to such power means access to money and power. In a country with a high unemployment rate as Zimbabwe, every youth would want to be in Passion Java’s shoes, imitate him or at least join him so that they can have access to power and money and if it means joining ZANU PF, then it would still be fine with them.
Come 2023, there is no young person who would not want to be associated with ED Mnangagwa. Therein lies the power of the Passion Java strategy. The perception that is created is that the money, the watches, Guccis, cars etc. he flaunts all come from being linked to ED and ZANU PF. What young person would not want to be associated with ED and ZANU PF then?
Keep your “enemies’ closer to you – ZANU PF’s containment of critical socialites in Zimbabwe
ZANU PF and its advisors practice the “Art of War” well. They know how to keep their real and perceived enemies in check. One way of utilizing the social media strategy is to thwart and checkmate all perceived ZANU PF social media critics. Loose cannons such as MyTee-Tee and Medem Bos have been known to cast aspersions on ZANU PF in the past and the damage this can inflict on the party especially in terms of voter apathy in young people can be damaging.
With their seemingly huge followings on social media, ZANU PF had to turn the negative social media created by these people into something positive for the party and the President. ZANU PF has now managed to kill two birds with one stone. The two socialites have been “tamed” and united with Passion Java. With goodie being poured through secondhand cars and some cash here and there, who would not want to be on ZANU PF and ED’s side?
The huge following these two and other socialites command on social media is already being used to draw attention to ZANU PF. Medem Bos and MyTee-Tee will throw an airtime competition here and an internet data challenge there, ask for people to send their phone numbers etc. These strategies attract young people desperate for money and freebies to these socialites and inadvertently to ZANU PF.
Whether you like it or not, Patati Patata will make you talk about ZANU PF and ED
One strategy that will certainly work to the advantage of ZANU PF is that whether Zimbabweans like it or not, they will be made to listen to the “patati Patata” song. The song will get ample airplay on national radio, parties, weddings, and national events. Some call it COMMAND Music. So in the end, the fact of the matter is that Zimbabweans will still talk about ZANU PF and more importantly ED. The more people talk about ED and ZANU PF, the more confusion, is created for those who have been sitting on the fence. For those that support ZANU PF, there would never have been a better way to show that ZANU PF is a likeable party that is even liked by international artistes, local musicians to the extent that they sing about ZANU PF and ED. If that will not create more votes for ZANU PF in 2023, even the perennial violence will not be able to do that.
Perceptions of success created through links with ZANU PF socialites
Youth in Zimbabwe have now become accustomed to the “mbinga” culture. They also know that for one to be a “mbinga”, they have to be connected to ZANU PF, and ED. The hype about Roki’s viewership on YouTube, his collaboration with Koffi Olomide and Rayvanny is exactly that.
Passion Java, his connections to ZANU PF and the money it brings has brought all this to reality. Roki who had been lost to the wilderness for a couple of years in Seke communal lands rearing chickens has all of a sudden after being rediscovered by Passion Java been resurrected, coming out with a bang, and achieving many “firsts” on YouTube and social media.
So in essence, this Roki success is a “must have” for all young musicians and artists in Zimbabwe. In addition, the success is a must have for many a young Zimbabwean. To get it, to reach that stage and be like Roki, one will know that proximity to Passion Java, ZANU PF and ED will deliver those “firsts”. No force, no violence, but just the promise that if you get close to ZANU PF, ED, and his people like Passion Java, you will be a star is all it takes to win the hearts of young people in the 2023 election.
Roki was a pawn to a masterstroke ZANU PF campaign strategy
Roki is a great musician. Rayvanny is a genius. Koffi Olomide is the Number 1 maestro.
That ZANU PF strategists whether they be in Geneva, London or New York saw this opportunity and actioned it shows that they mean business. If there were any doubts that ZANU PF and ED’s campaign for 2023 has begun, this ““Patati Patata” ” business is enough confirmation.
Roki has been used to propel an idea that he has no clue about or can comprehend. Hating him or getting upset with him will not damage him in any way.
The boy will just go back to Seke if the heat becomes too much to bear. However, for ZANU PF, the deed has been done. Fait accompli if you wish. It has worked, and the whole of Zimbabwe is talking about “ED Number 1”. On this one, ZANU PF has pulled a fast one and a masterstroke at that.