Teen queen or village idiot? Who not to vote for

2009-04-18 00:00

The Women’s Front poster was startling. Vote WF for “more abuse, more hunger, more pain”. One would think not much of a vote-catching formula except among masochists — a category into which, admittedly, most of the electorate falls. After all, we get screwed by our political masters and every five years we confirm that we are up for more of the same.

But the WF was not daringly nailing its S&M credentials to the mast. On closer inspection it transpired that what they actually want is “NO more abuse, NO more hunger, NO more pain”. The problem was that the “NO” is printed in a pale yellow against a white background and is simply invisible at a distance.

Such amateurishness sums up a lacklustre election where even the big parties, the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance, have been boring. Nothing much to choose between the ANC’s inanely grinning Jacob Zuma and the DA’s Helen Zille airbrushed to within an inch of looking like a teenager who is too young to vote.

So, who to vote for?

There is a cacophony on why you should vote for a particular party. But since there are 42 parties scrapping it out, it is far simpler to make your choice by a process of elimination. So, who not to vote for?

Given the dismal track record of religion in promoting harmony in diverse societies, it’s a doddle to exclude all the faith-based parties. So ditch the African Christian Democratic Party, the African Muslim Party and their ilk.

No matter that you have a Che Guevara poster on your wall and secretly still wear your radical chic beret from university days, forget about the fringe left.

In 2004, their combined vote was barely half a percent and their sole parliamentary representative, from the Azanian People’s Organisation, promptly joined the ANC cabinet.

Don’t waste your national vote on the tiny one-issue parties. Last time more than 100 000 people voted for parties that did not reach the numerical threshold to get someone into Parliament.

Forget the vanity parties with no existing representatives and no track record beyond the parents-teachers association level, only lots of free-floating ego seeking an outlet. Unfortunately, the proportional representation system is a blessing for ambitious individuals who hope to parlay voter naïveté and a relatively small expenditure on posters, into a parking place at the public feeding trough.

Then there are the parties that reflect ethnic power bases, such as the United Democratic Front of Bantu Holomisa and the Inkatha Freedom Party of Mangosuthu Buthelezi. If you want to make an ethnic statement, why join sinking ships?

The UDM is going to lose Xhosa votes to the Congress of the People and the IFP is going to lose ground to the ANC’s 100% Zulu Boy, Zuma.

The DA? It has become a one-woman phenomenon with an increasingly parochial focus: Cape Town (of which leader Zille is mayor) and the Western Cape (where Zille is the candidate for premier). Parliament does not figure large in her calculations.

The Independent Democrats? Another one-woman phenomenon, feisty but often erratic.

Cope? You want to vote for the cronies of former president Thabo Mbeki, who got us into this mess?

The ANC? You must be kidding. If after 15 years of disastrous governance you really don’t know why not to vote for the ANC, open a fat purple vein in your arm, longitudinally please, and lie back in a nice warm bath with a bottle of whisky at hand. There you are then, easy to decide. But whatever party this leaves you with, get out there and vote.

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