Political billboards, promise, and persuasion: An analysis of ZANU-PF’s 2018 harmonized elections political campaign

Lungile Augustine Tshuma*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The Zimbabwe’s 2018 harmonised elections will go down in history as the first to be held without the name of the country’s long serving dictator and founding president, Robert Mugabe on the ballot paper. Mugabe resigned following a military coup in November 2017. This study examines how his party, ZANU-PF, used billboards to sell and rebrand itself in the much touted watershed elections on July 30. The major objectives of the paper are to find out how the party framed itself ahead of its rivals and what their key messages were. A multi-theoretical approach gleaned from political advertising, de-colonial theory, and sign theory was used as a conceptual framework. In answering given objectives, the study used social semiotics and critical discourse analysis to unearth different narratives and messages the party was selling to the electorate. The study finds that ZANU-PF framed their presidential candidate as visionary while the party was promising the electorate an improved economic environment which was hinged on re-engaging the country’s former colonisers and erstwhile enemies, the West. The party also promised a socio-political environment where Zimbabweans regardless of race, ethnicity, and tribe can co-exist peacefully, a phenomenon which was foreign during Mugabe’s reign.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-321
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Marketing Communications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • billboards
  • elections
  • Political advertising
  • political communication
  • Zimbabwe


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