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My traumatic voting experience

I walk into the voting station and a surge of emotion overcomes me, maybe it’s adrenaline or my mind is beginning to realise what I’m about to do, I don’t know, I’m not a shrink.

I first tell the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) official who had my identity document (ID) to handle it with care because it’s in pieces, literally. I even tried to staple the pages together at some point because I wanted to prevent the pages from falling off, but some of the staples have fallen off. The black and white photo in the green ID does not look anything like the owner. In the photo I look like a criminal, a wanted man, in fact it looks like a mugshot. Before I even present it to the IEC official I tell her that I promise the man inside there, who doesn’t look like me, is in fact me. She opens the ID, looks at me and does not believe that it’s me. Then she says she can tell by the eyes, she laughs and shows the unfortunate ID photo to another official, who laughs at the state of the ID then at me. I’m unperturbed, I experience this mockery every time I go to a bank.

In fact I experienced it outside while in the queue when my so-called friends (yes, you Xolisa, Anele, Fix, Simone and Sizwe) laughed their rear ends off, first at the state of my ID which has seen many a washing machine trips, then at my photo. They mocked me by playing cards with its pages. Fix even had the audacity to impersonate the host of an ancient TV programme, “Ngomgqibelo Kamukibelo”. She pretended that the pages of my ID were money. She counted as she handed me the pages one by one by shouting, and all of them in unison, “One hundred! Two hundred! Three hundred!” Not funny.

I can feel the anxiety rush through me and I try to distract myself by talking to the bored and tired election officials. They direct me to the lady that’s going to put ink on my thumb to prove that I had in fact voted. I notice that she looks tired and irritable, I mention this to her and she tells me she’d been there since 6 in the morning. As she paints my thumb with the purple ink I tell her that I am disappointed with her job because, “I thought you were going to write, ‘I love Khaya’”. She laughs and retorts by saying “Maybe next time”. At least I leave her smiling. My heart is pounding and I feel a little shaky.

I move on to the next table where I am given my ballot paper. I take it and make some stupid comment, as I am prone to do. The guy laughs, then I proclaim my nervousness and the official tells me to go do my duty for my country, I oblige. I arrive at the booth and unfold my ballot and see the million and one party names on the ballot paper and realise that a number of trees no longer exist so we could vote.

After unfolding my ballot, just before I make my cross, I put my hands on my face for a couple of seconds and say a little prayer, my heart is beating from what I can imagine is adrenaline. I look down and I see the ANC, DA and Cope. Those are the only parties I see for some reason. I take a deep breath. I can’t believe I’m about to vote for anyone but the ANC. I reach out for the pen inside the booth and lift it towards me. I put my hands on my face again and ask God to help me be guided by reason and not emotion. After all I will not be voting for the party of Nelson Mandela, Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo and many other heroes. I did not anticipate the profound trauma I would feel.

The moments before putting the cross are traumatic. Eventually I make my mark next to Cope. It feels good but I am emotioned out. Earlier, a cousin of mine had told us that voting felt very emotional for him, especially realising that he was not voting for the ANC. I just thought that he was being a girl. I took no heed to what he experienced.

I can imagine that some people who may have intended to put their cross next to Cope must have been so overwhelmed with emotion that they just marked by the green, gold and black flag.

Finally I will myself out of the voting booth after what seems like unaphakade (an eternity). I walk to the ballot box. I try to get over my emotional state by joking with the election official who has been given the mundane but crucial task of making sure that we insert our ballots in the cardboard ballot box. As I place my ballot in the box stuffed with ballot papers, I smile as though posing for a camera. I pose for a second anticipating a camera flash. I ask the election official, “Dude, where are the cameras and the news folk?” He laughs and tells me that maybe they didn’t know I was going to cast my vote over there.

In the car, my friends ask me if I was ok because I was very quite. I tell them I am. I am on my phone updating my twitter (follow me on That was not the reason for my silence though, I was just coming to terms with what had happened in the voting booth. A lot was going through me. It was not easy not voting for something I had loved for so long. It felt like a break up. But voting for Cope felt right and amazing. Voting for this 125-day-old baby. She is a child that I have to look after now, take care of and make sure I never have to abandon her, or she me.
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  • Khaya Dlanga* By day he perpetuates the evils of capitalism by making consumers feel insecure (he makes ads). For this he has been rewarded with numerous Loerie awards, Cannes Gold, several Eagle awards and a Black Eagle. Khaya has an ego-crushing bank balance but an ego-boosting 6.5 million views on the popular video-sharing website YouTube. Africa's top Digital Citizen Journalist in 2008 for innovative use of the internet, at the Highway Africa conference, the largest gathering of African journalists in the world. Jeremy Maggs' "The Annual - Advertising, Media & Marketing 2008" listed him as one of the 100 most influential people in Advertising, Media & Marketing. Winner of Financial Mail's Adfocus New Broom award 2009. He has listed these accolades to make you think more highly of him than you ought to. * The views expressed in this or any future post are not necessarily his own (unless of course you agree with them). [email protected]


  1. Sipho Sipho 23 April 2009

    Good luck with COPE in the future. I hope you’ve found you eternal home, no more ubu Rhabhela Khaya. Rather work harder to fix your leaking roof rather than move houses everytime it rains. I can assure you more torrential rains are coming COPEs way.

  2. amandzing amandzing 23 April 2009

    “realise that a number of trees no longer exist so we could vote.”

    dude, the ballot papers were made from recycled paper, as were the boxes…

  3. 100% Baster 100% Baster 23 April 2009

    Very well written Khaya. Conrad

  4. Dawn Dawn 23 April 2009

    Good, brave man! It does take courage to step outside the comfort zone.

    Now go get your ID sorted! That also takes courage and humour.

  5. Skabenga Skabenga 23 April 2009

    Lol great blog, I also have a ID photo that people laugh at and squint to see if the guy in front of them actually looked like that, well it was when I was a student/surfer dude. I voted in the 92 referendum up till now and still keep my old ID book maybe its time for a new mugshot, besides my vote is always overwhelmed by the anc beast anyways.

  6. Jon Jon 23 April 2009

    You missed a golden opportunity to vote for the DA. Cope are just the ANC-lite. Just as useless, just as corrupt.

  7. Jay Jay 24 April 2009

    The most trauma is to vote for a party that lied and said it will win elections and lost pathetically. The party that hired a bishop to smile on the posters and put another fellow in the ballot paper – that must be traumatic. The contest was between zuma and dandala. Many people wanted to vote dandala, but coudnt see his face on the ballot paper and had no choice but to vote zuma. Its very traumatic to be coping with shilowa who failed to pay his child’s school fees.

  8. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 24 April 2009

    I think that Tutu and possibly even Mandela had the same experience.

    As for the ID – my husband’s had been through the washing mashine and only the plastic covers remained – which worried the officials. They could not stamp on plastic and they had to stamp. So we tore the cover open so they could stamp!

  9. Dee Dee 24 April 2009

    I think it was traumatic because you realised you were backing the wrong horse. In the immortal words of some leader: “you wasted your vote”.

    *goes home singing*

    “… noma besidubula, besishaya…”

  10. senzo senzo 24 April 2009

    You will live with this stress for the rest of next five years. How on earth can you betray the African National Congress like this broer. I wish this trauma can haunt you up until 2014 elections.
    Are you trying to say to me you don’t recognise the delivery that this government has done. It is so sad that some black people have felt into this crap of opposition parties and COPE.
    In compararison, we had almost 300 years of colonialism, 48 years of apartheid with no water, no electricity, no grants for kids, and racially divided grants for the elder, and no houses. However- and this is a huge however- in 15 years, we built 3.1 million Houses, almost 80% have elctricy, the majority is having running water, and 12million is spent on grants. This according to sober analysis is an excellent achievement.
    Lastly, i prefer to call a person who speak of no service delivery as a hypocrite of the 21st century. You can’t ignore what this government has done in comparison to previous governments. That said,it is also important to indicate that much more needs to be done.

  11. Bongile Bongile 24 April 2009

    dude i went through the same thing but i have known fo too long that anc was not getting my golden x. i did not even look at other parties including anc i just knew who i was to vote at the polling station before i voted i was standing infront of two coloured ladies we chatted a lot as we heading inside this primary school hall in silverton…our chats were surounded in voting for the opposite but i knew theirs was going for DA.But Khaya 5 years from now is a lot of time and for COPE to make a significant mark in 2014 we need to start working now,because what we fighting for against ANC has just begun think of Zimbabwe,Nigeria etc and from now on the campains need to kick off we cant tolerate to see our beloved country going down like that. The spirit of asijiki must prevail.As for umsholozi let him sing,let him dance naye uTHIXO ngowakhe but his very men are going to oust him very soon…but the problem is that we will all be suffering.I smiled after i casted my vote thinking i have just done right my brother was exactly like you traumatised and emotional…me, no bro i was not a girl.So Madoda masiqule sibheke phambili COPE is here to stay.

  12. Ash Ash 24 April 2009

    I enjoyed reading this, thank you!. I guess old FW was in a similar state, I heard him saying (on radio) that it was the first time in his life that he wasn’t voting for the National Party.

    I think Cope did pretty well for a brand-new option and am sure it’ll do better next time. (As well, I’m sure, the DA) :)

  13. Thukzy Thukzy 24 April 2009

    “dude, the ballot papers were made from recycled paper, as were the boxes…”

    No , dude but they were initially made out of tree

  14. pasile pasile 24 April 2009

    Lyndall, Tutu definately voted for COPE. The founder of this nation, Mandela urged South Africans to give the ANC a decisive victory, so stop the fantasies.
    You said we wouldn’t get 2/3, what do you say now?

  15. mundundu mundundu 24 April 2009

    ah, jon, you don’t fail to disappoint. bah.

    KD — i have this feeling that a lot of people automatically went to the anc just because of “it’s what i do.”

    i’m wondering if the province is going to be punished for not voting anc. we’ll see if it is, and i’m sure that the cape town contingent on this board will be reporting on all such movements thereto.

  16. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 24 April 2009

    Mark Gevisser wrote an article for the Cape Times before the election about how bereft he felt at having not to vote ANC for the first time.

    I am sure that Zapiro felt the same.

  17. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 24 April 2009

    The real crunch will come in the local elections in 2011. The World Cup will be over, the money will not be there, and Zuma will have had 2 years to keep his conflicting promises to both sides in every dispute.

  18. Katse Katse 24 April 2009

    So, as an Eastern Caper, you managed to absorb Mbeki’s words which were reiterated if not echoed by Dandala when he said, “people should use their conscious when voting”. I am sure Mkeki thought people were deep in their unconsciousness, as for you, you must have been shaking from loyalty deficiency syndrome, where is your friend Sentletse? It’s not good to rely on the media’s selfish ediologies and projections? VIVA ANC VIVA…

  19. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 25 April 2009


    Mandela may support the ANC and still not support Zuma getting 2/3rds. How would you know?

    As for the 2/3rds – the IFP may have saved us. Kwa-Zulu Natal vote always comes in last.

    However, if Zuma tries to change the constitution – the opposition parties should take the Non- Independent Electoral Committee to court for their conspiring with the ANC not to allow millions of SA refugees overseas not to be allowed to register to vote.

  20. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 25 April 2009


    There is nothing heroic about supporting the winning party – especially not when it is corrupt, and especially not when it is for favours. What difference then between the ANC and the Nats?

    The heros are the ones that oppose.

  21. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 27 April 2009


    The greatest threat to democracy in SA lies at what is happening in Zimbabwe right now. SA is trying to pressurise Mugabe staying in power BECAUSE THEY PLAN THE SAME!

    Get the Zim situation right. Mugabe lost. Mugabe stole billions. Land was stolen as well. And the ANC is using all the might of SA to keep it that way! So they can do the same is the only possible reason.

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