Friends & Friction: Political campaigning is a time of temporary insanity

2013-11-17 10:00

Babies are always beautiful, yet for good reason, making them is something that is done in private.

It is very similar to democracy, which is a beautiful system, but the heat of the campaign trail reveals the worst in politicians.

Sometimes they say things they don’t mean, which they later have to retract or simply give it the tired “taken-out-of-context” glaze.

They also do embarrassing things, like dancing and sweating in public with their whisky-filled stomachs.

Before I get lynched, I am aware that obesity is the new stigma. We are not supposed to talk about it, especially in reference to politicians.

But while standing in a queue recently, a toddler asked his mother if the man standing behind them had a baby in his tummy.

Everybody froze.

I hope the looming ban on fast food advertising is nothing but campaign noise because, quite honestly, it will do nothing to reduce the obesity pandemic.

Understandably, the political campaigning period is a time of national temporary insanity and so it requires maximum restraint from columnists.

It is like being invited to a buffet every night for six months straight.

One must not be lost in the dessert because there is still a waistline to take care of.

So politicians must be allowed to do their work, good and bad, without any help or hindrance from columnists.

Election rallies have benefits.

An ex-colleague once told me: “I go to the rallies of all political parties because I get to stock up on those free T-shirts they give out. I haven’t bought pyjamas since we started voting. I sleep in those T-shirts.”

I asked if there were any that gave him nightmares. “Of course,” he replied. “But they are free, and if something is free, take it because there aren’t many of those floating around any more.”

“Anyway,” he continued, “I don’t think they make nightmare-proof pyjamas either.”

Electioneering is good for business. Imagine all those companies that are going to print those T-shirts and posters, and the venues that will be hired and the PA systems – and many people are going to eat, so caterers also factor in.

A friend of mine who is a sangoma told me that his consultations with politicians increase during this time.

So he has stocked up on isiwasho, which is used to wash away bad luck. This is absolutely necessary to get on to “the list”.

There is also uvela bahleke, which will make a man irresistible to the ladies who are, after all, the voting majority. Umlomo omnandi – or the sweet mouth – makes everything you say sound sweet.

Perhaps as South Africans, we are too passionate about politics and have set too high a standard for mere mortals.

Political campaigning will come and go every five years, and the nation will go crazy like we did with the Macarena or the Bump Jive before it, and new parties will come and go.

Granted some dances will stay forever, like “cheek to cheek” and “bus stop”, but nothing is guaranteed.

A friend of mine who is in the ANC alerted me to the fact that Unip, the party that led the liberation of Zambia, has no more seats in the Zambian National Assembly.

If you ever feel depressed by the backwardness of electioneering, just remember the cha-cha – two steps forward, one step back. That is still progress.

» Kuzwayo is a mwalimu at Ignitive, an advertising agency

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