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By Vukosi Maluleke

Digital Journalist


MK party merchandise is flying off the shelves and small businesses are cashing in

Rising demand for political party regalia has been a financial blessing for entrepreneurs.


Small businesses are cashing in, as the demand for political party merchandise soars ahead of the national elections.

As South Africans prepare to place an ‘X’ next to their chosen candidate on 29 May, supporters have been loud and proud about their political preferences – through their party gear.

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While the bold statement of allegiance signifies the republic’s freedom of expression – it has proven lucrative for entrepreneurs who’ve leveraged the electorate’s desire for political visibility.

However, the new kid on the block the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party is seemingly the golden goose in this year’s election season.

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‘MK is leading’

Speaking to The Citizen, MS World Group owner Qalimpi Silwane said the emergence of the MK Party gave his business a boost.

“Since the establishment of MK, the business went very high. Many people are looking to have MK attire. It’s something new, very popular and in high demand,” Silwane told The Citizen.

“MK is leading,” he said.

Coming second on Silwane’s merchandise roll is the African National Congress (ANC), followed by the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

While producing merchandise is not new to the Durban-based entrepreneur, he admitted that business had increased dramatically, adding that he’s had to introduce night shifts to cater for the influx of orders.

New party, business opportunity

Kempton Park-based entrepreneur Tshabello Maphopha is also banking on the election fever.

Maphopha, who exclusively produces MK party merchandise said he spotted a gap in the scarcity of merchandise for the newly-established political organisation.

However, his ‘aha moment’ only came from accompanying a friend to pick up his order from a local clothing designer.

“I saw an opportunity whereby there’s this new party… that evening the idea of a t-shirt came up,” Maphopha recalled.

After conceptualising his design, Maphopha communicated the vision to his tailor who seamlessly executed the brief – marking the birth of a lucrative business venture.

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‘My dream is to see Jacob Zuma wearing this’

Eager for Jacob Zuma to wear his golf shirt, Maphopha packaged his merchandise including MK Party branded umbrellas – and sent them to a friend, asking him to pass the gifts on to the former statesman.

The thoughtful gesture was well received by MK party leadership, resulting in a meeting request from Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla.

For Maphopha, the meeting with Zuma’s daughter signified a stamp of approval from the former president.

“He likes my t-shirt, he’s always wearing it,” said Maphopha.

@tshabellomaphopha

MK exclusive and unique merchandise aproved by Duduzile Zuma. ✊️🖤🖤💚💚🖤🖤✊️ #SAMA28 #umsholozi #Msholozi #voters #jacobzuma #mk #trendingvideo #mkhontowesizwe #nxamalala #godole73 #southafrica

♬ original sound – tshabellomaphopha

For Sandton’s Diamond Walk

Despite the large number of orders, Maphopha said he still prioritised quality over quantity, catering for an elite market – with his popular MK party golf shirt retailing for R500.

“I want to design a Diamond Walk, or V&A [Waterfront] kind of merchandise,” he said, explaining that his products were aimed at customers willing to spend a little more.

“There’s someone who [shops at] PEP or Truworths and he’s happy with it. There’s someone who only shops at Diamond Walk, Sandton, which is the last level.

 “My market is there, at the last level. I cannot compromise on quality.”

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