It’s silly season. No, it’s not Black Friday yet, nor is it the festive season. It’s election season and politicians are doing the most.
They are making promises, both simple and outrageous. Houses, jobs, clean cities, more jobs, water and sanitation, jobs again and grants for all occasions.
They are kissing babies, knocking on doors and stepping over potholes and through mud with their shoes that cost more than what the families they are visiting can afford to spend on food each year.
They sit on the edge of torn couches with their R10 000 jeans and promise to bring change to a family that’s been eating from the same sack of 10kg maize meal for three months.
They are side stepping through the filthy streets and handing out pamphlets that will end up in a pile in the corner.
They bring out the loud hailers and drive up and down the streets and right past amaphara in the corner who are high on tik, and remind them to vote.
And when they are asked for the R2 for a cigarette or for R10 for electricity, they dig deep and pull out wads of cash and hand them a R20, all in the name of service delivery.
They sit on overturned buckets in yards while a watching a stream caused by a broken tap trickle through a whole informal settlement and promise to do better next time – they just need one more chance.
They appeal to the elderly’s sense of nostalgia and tell you why you should never vote for other parties.
And we open our doors to them. We parade our young, elderly, our unemployed and our sick and disabled, in the hopes that when the entourage of politicians leave, led by the councillor candidate, they will remember us and the struggles we shared with them.
We show them the holes in the roofs, the leaking taps, the open drains where three kids have washed away in the past few years.
We tell them about the mud schools and the gifted children who have no future, simply because of the circumstances they are born into.
We talk of the bucket system and how inhumane it is and they promise that this will be the last time you will ever have to endure it.
They are told of families of 12 each crammed into a shack and they briefly mention RDP lists and housing as a priority.
South Africans are at their most vulnerable when there’s a politician on their stoep, and they share their sorrow, dreams and goals. A short CV of your pain and struggles.
And then 10 minutes after stepping through our doors, the politicians leave, getting into their luxury cars and on to the next door, every day until voting day.
And then . . . well nothing for most of those communities. Until it’s time to put that X on a ballot again.
A vicious cycle.