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A brand-new party

To abuse the marriage metaphor even further, it’s clear that what’s at stake is who gets the surname.
”I am Terror Lekota, ANC,” the splitter said, and appeared to add, ”And you are Jacob Zuma, Umshini Wami, not ANC.

You can go with the Malemas of the world [because they really are not ANC.” As the banana splits and the monkeys come home to roost, a key debate is likely to be who owns the ANC brand.

For Lekota, the ANC is owned by those who follow its principles, values and traditions — implicitly he and his fellow travellers. It is not merely a name, or a venue, he said, thus implying that the party and its Luthuli House headquarters are occupied by squatters.

Doug de Villiers, the chief executive of the Interbrand Sampson group, says a brand’s legal ownership is easily identifiable — it sits with whoever registers it and with whom the intellectual property lies.

Now that would probably be the ANC’s founding fathers of about 100 years ago, most of whom have died and are probably turning in their graves over recent events. A brand is symbolised by iconography (think the Nike swish or the puma of Puma). But it also stands for a set of behaviours and attributes, says De Villiers.

And it is these behaviours that are in contest as the party splits. No doubt the ANC’s brand values of hegemony, unity and stability have all been corroded and it has been damaged.

Just how damaged is illustrated by Media Tenor, which calculates coverage of institutions, organisations and individuals. Director Wadim Schreiner says that while the ANC enjoyed positive media coverage until 2005, it’s now in the red by 21% — the calculation of negative coverage.

”The party must reiterate what it stands for,” says De Villiers.

And here’s a novel thought for the new ANC which the old ANC appears to have abandoned.

Political brands are ultimately owned by ”the people”, says De Villiers. That’s us, the voters who will make our crosses next year.

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