Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I Voted

I joined the queue to vote.

The voting station is a short walk down the road. Although normally known as Plumstead Tennis Club, the property was today occupied by the Independent Electoral Commission. I was accompanied by my wife Jenny and her mother Edwina. Edwina turns 85yrs old this year, and was eager to vote. Mostly she wanted to “keep that blighter Zuma out”. I understood her sentiment, but pointed out that the greatest probability existed that our next President would be Jacob Zuma – whether she liked him or not.

We joined a queue…. greeting a number of neighbours already there. Eric and Angela were ahead of us, and soon emerged sporting blue painted thumbnails as proof of voting. Behind us was Mike from across the road. He and I spend time bewailing the Stormers Rugby team’s dismal string of losses in the Super 14 league. We both knew what should be done in selection, and wondered why the coach did not ask our advice. Others in the queue agreed with us and soon between us all, we had selected a better team. The mood of the day was relaxed, and it felt good to hang out with the neighburhood.

Then it was time to vote. We had our Identity Books checked, had our left thumb nail painted with indelible ink, and were presented with the ballot papers: one for the national government, and one for the province. And there I stood : deciding where to place my mark.

I have voted for the African National Congress ever since the emergence of our new South African democracy (before that I had refused to vote for racially segregated candidates). I vote for the ANC because they had led the struggle for liberation, and best represented the values I believed in. But I am currently not willing to give them my vote. I will not support their choice of Jacob Zuma as President. His innocence of corruption is the decision of a politically appointed Director of National Prosecutions, and ought to have been tested in a court of law. I am also unhappy with the way in which a political elite have enriched themselves, while the majority of the people in our country still struggle with issues of poverty, health and education. The final nail in the ANC coffin is the way in which they abandoned support for the Dalai Lama under pressure from China. Their proud history of struggle for human rights and justice lies in ruins.
But who else to vote for?
• The Democratic Alliance has been a testy political conscience in parliament – and more particularly in the Western Cape. But the DA is too white and too wealthy. When they have black leadership, and work for the poor, I might offer my support.
• The recently formed Congress of the People contained many who followed Thabo Mbeki out of leadership in the ANC. These were the people who supported Mbeki’s myopic view on HIV/Aids. These were the people who refused to support a probe into the arms deal. And for this reason it is very hard to be enthusiastic about them. The only reason they might get my vote is simply to prevent the ANC from political hegemony.
• The Rest are too small to make any political difference: I will not support the religious bigotry of the various Christian political parties; I will not touch the racial bigotry of the Afrikaner Vryheidsfront; I do like the feisty nature of Patricia de Lille – but she is really just “one woman and a political banner”.

So I stood locked in indecision. Until I finally made my mark – a vote intended as a protest against the abuse of power by ANC majority, rather than approval for any other party.


Paddy said...

My prayers are with you as you enter a new era!

Anonymous said...

I held my breath as I read your blog ... waiting to see what you would do in secret ... I identified with every word and sentiment and then you ... kept your vote a secret!!! Although the FF plus have baggage don't discount their abilty to bring solutions to the civil service and education system. Have agreat break my buddy!! Pieter

Steve Hayes said...

I shared your misgivings about the parties you mentioned, but eventually in my blog I came clean.