Georgina Guedes

Making your mark, making it count

2011-05-19 12:26

Georgina Guedes

Voting day in South Africa is more than just the opportunity to put an X next to our favourite candidate’s name. It’s the opportunity to reaffirm that we live in a democracy.

This is what struck me as I stood in a queue last night. I was surrounded by people, some of whom might have had different political affiliations to me, but were all united with a sense of camaraderie. We wanted to vote, we were pleased to be doing so and we all wished the queue would move faster.

My husband and I mistimed our voting this year. In previous elections, we’ve skipped the morning rush and whipped through the negligible queue in the evening.

At the last national elections, my daughter was five days old, and when my special vote didn’t materialise, I was told by the IEC to go to the voting station and jump the queue. When we got there, there were only ten or so people ahead of us, so we waited for them to be processed before casting our ballot.

For some reason, this year the snarled-up queue remained consistent through the day, and when we arrived there after walking our dog in the evening, it seemed that we were in for an hour’s wait. The same daughter - now a feisty two-year-old - wanted her dinner, so my husband left me in the line to go and feed her some spaghetti Bolognese.

Soon after he’d got home, an IEC official spotted me chatting to the people around me, with my pregnant belly protruding like a billowing sail. “Come to the front,” I was instructed.

I said I would wait for my husband, and made a quick call to him. He dragged our daughter away from her dinner and we went to the front of the queue, laughing about how we should always have a new baby or one on the way at election time.

Our daughter was outraged to have her supper snatched out from under her, and shouted at every election official “mine Bolognese!” as they went about their business at the end of a long day. IDs checked - “mine Bolognese!” Ballot papers handed out (two, and stamped) - “mine Bolognese!” Fingers marked (ink came off in the bath later, but I didn’t vote again) - “Mine Bolognese!” Ballots cast – “Mine Bolognese!”

We finally headed home, satisfied with a vote well cast, to all enjoy dinner together.

Elections always give me the opportunity to consider how lekker South Africa really is. Voters make friends of all races in the queue, and we all participate in our own granular way in the running of our country. Whomever you vote for, your participation is a positive endorsement of the society we live in. My fellow voters, I salute you.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer and the chairperson of the Southern African Freelancers’ Association (Safrea).

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