FASHION has become the buzzword as the politicians mix and mingle with the electorate ahead of the July 31 election.
REPORT BY DALPHINE TAGWIREYI
Determined to appeal to the electorate, presidential candidates and their wives are putting on the best gowns and are also enlisting designers to make attire such as jumpsuits, caps, berets, shirts and jackets based on party colours.
They look immaculate in these colours, drawing admiration from their multitude of supporters. However, there is always a striking contrast between the electorate’s and the politicians’ clothing.
At the rallies around the country, the villagers in rural areas are often dressed in tattered and cheap clothes, hand made sandals, cheap worn-out shoes or even barefoot, while the politicians exhibit the latest in fashion trends.
The MDC-T has adopted the red colour, the MDC led by Welshman Ncube has painted the nation green and Simba Makoni’s Mavambo is synonymous with yellow.
Zanu PF has however chosen to adopt all the colours identified with other rival parties, mainly red, green, yellow and black regalia, with their leader Robert Mugabe’s face on it. When it suits them, the politicians dump designer wear for the commoners’ dressing in order to identify with them.
This was the case last week when President Robert Mugabe took his campaign trail to the Marange apostolic sect, when they were celebrating their annual passover in Marange.
“Abandoning the famous regalia with his picture on it, Mugabe wore the apostolic garments with a staff in hand. The president even removed his shoes in order to jell with the Vapostori who welcomed him as one of their own.
Not to be outdone was his wife Grace Mugabe, who is known for her taste for expensive clothing. On that occasion, she also tossed aside designer labels and donned the apostolic regalia replete with a doek, known as gloria among the apostolic sect. She passed off as any other apostolic woman.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is eying the presidency, is also carving his name among the fashion enthusiasts. While the premier had not been known for dressing immaculately in the past, his new wife Elizabeth appears to have shaken things up in the PM’s wardrobe.
Now Tsvangirai, a former trade unionist, can look like a perfect gentleman in a red shirt and black trousers, accompanied by the gorgeous looking Elizabeth.
Elizabeth has managed to impress at all the campaign rallies she has attended, with her figure-hugging outfits that complement her typical African woman’s rounded figure.
The difference in status is very apparent as politicians not only dress flamboyantly, but also match from head to toe with their party colours at these campaign rallies.
Though Grace and Elizabeth have become prima donnas at campaign rallies, it is Zanu-PF’s second leader in command, Joyce Mujuru, who has withstood the winds of fashion, preferring to dress in simple attire for these campaign meetings.
At her recent campaign in Mount Darwin, Mujuru simply donned a yellow Zanu PF t-shirt and bandana with a wrapping cloth (zambia). Being a former guerilla fighter, she has shown her freewill spirit, as she is able to freely mix and mingle with the public.
FASHION FLAIR STIMULATED BY YOUNG VOTERS
In comparison, prior to the 2008 campaign rallies, where pockets were not full of the US dollar, fashion did not play a major part as politicians, especially those belonging to the MDC, who had not yet become part of the ruling class, dressed like the masses.
However, the 2013 campaign rallies are different. MDC-T organising secretary Nelson Chamisa is distinguishing himself among the fashion conscious by sometimes donning red shoes to match his party’s colours. Party Secretary General Tendai Biti has also shown his flair for fashion.
Young upcoming designer Freddy Jackson of JJ.Sozinyo has attributed the fashion conscious campaign rallies to the youths who have become politically active.
“Most of these politicians not only have youthful wives, but their counterparts in the political field are also youths, hence the desire to be seen to be fashion-sensitive”, he said.
“Looking back at the campaign trails in the past elections, the youth were mere observers and now this is a whole different scenario, hence their presence is felt by their fashion tastes”, said Jackson.