Phakamisa Mayaba | Voters deserve better than these washed-out salespeople

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A study of the voters’ roll shows that young people reject party politics on a larger scale than older voters do. Photo: Sharon Seretlo/Gallo Images
A study of the voters’ roll shows that young people reject party politics on a larger scale than older voters do. Photo: Sharon Seretlo/Gallo Images


In restaurant parlance we called it silly season.

Around the time the third school term ends and a motley collection of unfamiliar holidaymakers come crawling out of the woodwork, spoiling to drink hard and talk loud as if to let the lowly waitstaff know: 

We have arrived!

Winter is over, they celebrate, seemingly ecstatic about Dezemba and the attendant debauchery of street bashes, slay queens and cooler boxes ringing in the festive season ahead.

Easily, the discerning waiter can classify the rabble into three – the arrogant, the ignorant and the chancer.

The first is the guy who orders his Johnnie Blue “with exactly two blocks of ice, and make it snappy, chief”.

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A high-flying broad-based black economic empowerment type, he has no time for kitchen hands whose tariff is to serve food under the oppressive direction of white monopoly capitalists. And if his nectar is to taste, his tongue loosens enough to casually remind you how much his 10% tip will make somebody of you yet.

Straggling ever pitifully behind him is the ignorant fellow, whose suit, though noticeably expensive, is seemingly reserved for occasions as noteworthy as dining at a family restaurant that most people would ordinarily wear slippers to.

But don’t make the mistake of correcting this guy when he orders his passion fruit with cola tonic. That would be futile because, trust me, ignorance is bliss indeed and this guy has a severe case of it.

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Just serve it up and hear his lamentations about how this is not what he ordered and that maybe you should go back to training.

Last is the yuppie chancer, a man whose ego will not surrender to the dictates of reality. Obviously uncultured and unfamiliar with the most mundane refinements, still he can’t bring himself to whisper in your ear:

Uhm, what exactly is al dente?

So when the pasta arrives and not the steak he thought he was ordering, he will smile sheepishly, ruefully shaking his head before meekly commenting on just how much he enjoys this “stuff”.

I blame the lead-up to the local government elections for conjuring up these horrible ghosts from my former life.

So unimaginative are these election road shows that they make something worthwhile of those repetitive reality shows covering the melodramatic lives of our often cringingly over-the-top celebrities.

No, this is not a tabloid, so I won’t be mentioning names, but you know who they are.

The comrades have no issue dusting off the same corny nuggets, laced with the same gestures and language. You know, things like “service delivery” ... “fighting corruption” ... “our people deserve better”.

Yet at that very moment on TV there’ll be people burning tyres and refusing to listen to any party because for five years they’ve had no running water, no electricity, just plenty of joblessness and wholesale deprivation.

At that very moment some official will stand bald-faced in front of an imaginary bridge that was meant to be built three years ago; or a substandard stadium that mere days since its opening and already the goalposts are hanging on the hinges; or we’ll just be treated to the innumerable ways that the powers that be not only don’t give a toss but are simply doing what is apparently easier to do than what is supposed to be done – steal big because five years is obviously not long enough to ensure a leisurely retirement.

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With all those well-paid aides at their disposal, does nobody bother to tell these guys that even the most devout boxing fan can only stand to watch the legendary Rumble in the Jungle so many times before passing out on the couch in utter disinterest? I think not.

From the television debates to the speeches, to the barefoot volunteers who are more annoying than that lot who visit every so Saturday trying to sell me a business class ticket to heaven, South Africans indeed deserve better. Better schools, better houses, better services, but most importantly, better leaders.

Looking forward to the day when silly season will bring with it a more diverse clientele, or in this case, leadership; people with brains, dynamism and who hopefully read fiction.

Mayaba is a freelance writer


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