In noisy??colour

2014-05-05 10:00

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I see Helen Zille’s face every day on my drive to and from work. Her face hangs high up on most of the poles on the main road that runs through Green Point, Three Anchor Bay, Sea Point and Fresnaye.

These are the Atlantic seaboard suburbs that lie in the mountains’ embrace just two streets away from the picturesque promenade.

On my street, the DA leader comes alone, not flanked by Patricia de Lille and Lindiwe Mazibuko.

I read from this she wants to reassure residents in the city who brought her to power, and who are perhaps now perplexed by her trying to kiss her way into black people’s favour, that she is still their leader.

Being from Joburg, I feel this poster is not intended for me, but I do find the message useful in deciding who to vote for as May 7 draws nearer.

From Zille’s doek and iron-pot stirring to Julius Malema’s beret, symbolism weighs heavy on elections.

But I’m looking for the unintended symbols. As I’m so-so about the various parties’ election manifestos and have grown weary from hearing party promises, I’m looking more closely at the campaign paraphernalia for lurking clues.

This because all that unintended symbolism is more telling of the intentions, beliefs and political futures of what’s on offer.

Take the DA, with a campaign so slick it makes you wonder about the size of its budget for hair, make-up and Photoshop.

There’s hardly a strand of hair out of place and the South African flag in the foreground glistens and flutters just so. Don’t get me started on Mmusi Maimane’s Ayisafani double feature.

The DA is so preoccupied with appearance, it is ignoring reality.

The party is so eager to gallop forward, it is projecting a world that looks another 20 years into the future, which also seems about the time it could possibly taste national victory.

On the polar opposite is the IFP’s sepia-toned poster of Mangosuthu Buthelezi, which gives the impression that it was dusted off from a pile for polls long lost.

Months ago I spotted one in Gardens, central Cape Town, with a slogan written in Sesotho that in a city of Afrikaans and isiXhosa speakers screams: “Relevance, please?” Hanging low and alone, with Buthelezi looking like death warmed up, how many nails in that coffin before it’s all over?

Not so for the ANC, with its leader Jacob Zuma bang centre and perched atop the promise: “Together we move South Africa forward.”

But for all the calls of joint efforts, it is difficult to catch his eye. The man of the people is smiling contentedly, staring ahead at something only he seems privy to.

But there is no mistaking the power there, as seen in the hint of knuckles of the fist behind him; and the solid black, green and yellow.

Yet the same colours don’t look so good on the Congress of the People – the yellow on its posters bearing the image of Mosiuoa Lekota is almost garish, just like the infighting that consumed the party’s leadership.

And Agang?SA’s Mamphela Ramphele in white suit against white background seems to be telling us not to mind her because she’ll soon dissolve into the cloud she floated in about a year ago.

Then there’s the young black hope, Julius Malema – a man I want to believe in, if only I could be sure I could trust him or take him seriously.

A show of maturity would be, for example, to use use the SABC’s banning of his ad – which looks and sounds like it was shot by an ANN7 crew, complete with grammar and spelling mistakes on the slogans – to clean up his act.

This election symbolises our political re-engagement after having been slapped out of our rainbow nation haze.

We see behind the posters and promises, because, as much as our vote serves a collective, that solitary mark is an imprint of personal beliefs about

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