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More Opinion and Analysis

The best of a bad bunch

2014-05-06 12:47
South Africa is disgusted with its politicians. We’re bored of the corruption, drama, lies, ineffectiveness, press courting, haggling and mind changing.

We’re so sick of the whole sorry show that finding a party to which to append our “X” on election day is a hard task. Conversations at dinner tables around the country for the last couple of months have gone something like this:

“So, do you know who you’re voting for?”
“No, they’re all as bad as each other.”
“There’s no real choice.”

Spoiling your vote?

A lot of people are even entertaining the option of spoiling their ballots to express their disgust. They’re actually going to get out their barcoded ID, stand in line in the crisp winter sun and use their vote to express dissatisfaction with every one of the 33 parties that we’ve managed to cobble together to contest the 2014 elections.

That’s a lot of effort for a whine. But then, we South Africans are very good at whining, aren’t we?

I do understand that spoiling a ballot is sending a message. And, depending on who the spoiler voted for previously, it is taking a vote from them - which makes it a viable option for those who feel that they can’t possibly vote for anyone other than the ANC, but can’t in good conscience support them either.

But I want my vote to mean something. I want to see the tally of numbers and know that my “X” is one little contribution to whatever party I’m voting for. Which required me to do some serious thinking.

The ANC disillusion

In the past, the policies and philosophies of the ANC have resonated most closely with me. They wrote the lovely Constitution that we are all governed by, and that document is one of the most progressive, compassionate and insightful of its kind in the world.

The problem is that increasingly, the practice of governing by the ANC does not represent my interests. And here, I’m not talking about my interests as a white, privileged, stable-income-earning South African woman, but as a South African citizen of any colour, any income bracket, education status or background. I believe that the ANC is failing us all.

I also believe that the attempt to deflect attention from the security upgrades at Nkandla by our president by claiming his wife was raped on the eve of an election is in extremely poor taste. It also raises a whole host of other questions about all the South Africans who are victims of violence and rape that the ANC’s policies do very little to protect.

So where does that leave us?

The bad bunch

Cope is a breakaway from the ANC, which unfortunately then replicated much of the infighting and policy confusion that its predecessor effected.

Agang has wonderful policies and a leader with the right world view, but who unfortunately displayed herself to be a confused and easily influenced politician.

I’ve heard lots of people talking about a strategic vote for EFF, but I honestly believe those people are smoking something. My objection to the policies of EFF boil down to one simple conviction: Julius Malema talks kak.

Even so, a vote for any of these parties would bring them incrementally closer to having representative seats in parliament – which I believe is a good thing.

And the winner is...

But the conclusion that I came to this weekend in my own voting journey is that in this election, I’m going to stop trying to see the bigger picture and to vote for the good of all South Africans. I’m going to be selfish. I’m going to vote for the party that is the most likely to look out for my interests. And right now, that’s the DA.

If I have to boil it down to my simplest interaction with government, my hope is that if the DA takes Gauteng, that they would do something about my electricity bill.

But, as much as I roll my eyes about Helen’s antics and find some of the DA’s actions a little questionable (for instance, releasing unsourced and unverifiable bragging information on their Twitter feed), I believe that as a party, their hearts are in the right place and they do genuinely want what’s best for all South Africans.

They might not promise that the next time miners protest, it will be because they’re getting overpaid (tsha, as if), but I believe that if they were ever to gain significant political power, they would do things mostly right.

Whoever you vote for tomorrow, do it with consideration and with hope. Happy elections in this, our 20th year of democracy.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


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