My wife and I were driving in Garsfontein in the general Tshwane area this past weekend when we spotted a guy in a blue Audi S3 Sport with Jacob Zuma’s grinning mugshot and the words, “Vote ANC” emblazoned on the driver’s side door panel.
The first thing that struck me about this is that it wasn’t so long ago that a dude in that earning bracket wouldn’t be caught dead associating himself with a political party so audaciously. “Viva ANC” T-shirts were the exclusive preserve of township/informal settlement/inner city dwellers. How this election has changed the political landscape. Just the other day I gate-crashed Fikile Mbalula’s birthday party on Friedman Drive in Sandton. I was quite gobsmacked at the general opulence that dripped from every pore in that crowd. Very different from the Dickies and All Star-clad comrades I used to know.
But back to our guy in the blue Audi. I found myself trying to figure out why he would wear his heart on his sleeve so brazenly. Conventional wisdom dictates that the threat posed by the emergence of Cope (real or imagined) has spurred apathetic ANC supporters on to nail their colours to the mast. Perhaps. And then I gave it a little bit more thought. You will not get a prize for guessing that Mr Blue Audi was black, despite me not having specified his race. But you would have guessed correctly. Based on the car he was driving, I won’t give you any credit if you surmised that he was some kind of professional in at least some junior-to-mid managerial position. (No Marius, “He probably stole it” is so 80s.)
Since we were driving in our nation’s capital, it is quite conceivable that he works for one of our state or parastatal institutions. Of course, he could also be working for any of the corporates that operate in the greater Tshwane area, assuming he wasn’t a visitor. And then the thought hit me; regardless of his capabilities and/or intellect, he wouldn’t be anywhere near that earning bracket just a mere 20 years ago. That inevitably leads one to the conclusion that, insofar as this particular individual is concerned, the ANC’s aggressive (at least theoretically) affirmative action policies are probably very close to the top of the pile of issues determining his vote. If you start telling me he could just be an ANC office-bearer or entrepreneur or a cabinet minister’s son, I will be forced to hit you with a rolled-up copy of Umrabulo and tell you to stop being a nit-picking lil twerp. Potato, tomato.
That finally brings to my point. Let’s suppose that all my assumptions are correct and that this arbitrary dude is voting ANC because affirmative action is close to his heart. Would this be right? I mean, surely and hopefully we all vote based on what is best for the country and not just selfish narrow interests? If you start interrupting me to tell me that affirmative action applies to 90% of our population and therefore cannot fall under the definition of “narrow” interests, just remember that my rolled-up copy of Umrabulo lurks ominously close by. Stop nitpicking. You know what I mean.
Okay; let’s move away from the issue of affirmative action because none of us are capable of debating it without our retarded superstitions and general idiocy rising to the surface. What about an individual who hangs on to the impressively bearded Rev Meshoe’s tailcoat because the issue closest to their heart is to see the annulment of Achmat Zackie’s marriage and all other same-sex unions? What about Mrs Hattingh whose primary reason for voting DA is to ensure that the demographics in Constantia remain pretty much decent, God-fearing white folk even though she doesn’t mind a sprinkling of black and coloured residents “as long as they behave decently and don’t blare loud music from minibus taxis and that sort of thing”.
What about Bab’ Nzama from the Watville hostel who has always and will always vote for the IFP because he’ll be damned if he’s going to vote for a Xhosa organisation (although he’s had that “deer-caught-in-the-headlights” look since circa December 2007)? What about Archbishop Emeritus Tutu who can’t place that cross next to the black-green-and-gold because he fears walking down 5th Avenue in New York and have to explain to some civilised people why his president had worn animal skins (you never know!) at his inauguration and why he’d started belting out a tune in a Ladysmith Black Mambazo voice at the end of his acceptance speech (I said you never know!). What about Tumi who will vote for Cope because she is deeply upset at the way that Mbeki, “Cope’s Dalai Lama” (not my words, ask Julius!) had been booted out by the ANC?
I’m pretty certain that Gwede Mantashe would wave me off derisively and tell me to stop talking nonsense; people vote for the ANC based on their conscience and the ANC’s excellent record of delivery in the last 15 years. The Rev Meshoe would probably offer to pray for me because I know not what I talk of; homophobia is not an official ACDP policy. Ryan Coetzee would sneer at my ignorance before eloquently dismissing my suggestion that anybody votes for the DA to preserve any group privileges “with the contempt it deserves” in a long, rambling sentence peppered with words like “maintenance of standards” and such like.
Chief Buthelezi would probably be initially aggravated by my insolence at casting aspersions on Bab’ Nzama’s motives emdala kangaka (“as old as he is”) before suggesting that I am spewing “a lot of hogwash and hullabaloo” with the “temerity” previously shown by the ANC as they sought to “vilify me personally” since the 70s because of his close friendship with Dr Mandela. Or something like that. I would expect nothing less from the frocked Arch or even Cope’s “JJ” Tabane. All of them would dismiss me emphatically and question the integrity of my brain’s synaptic connections.
My point here is that it is in the nature of political parties to distance themselves from any public utterance of politically incorrect utterance. But they will actively welcome the purveyors of these narrow interests within their fold. And I don’t know that this is abnormal. In a perfect world, every vote cast on April 22 would be a vote based on what is the best for the Republic of South Africa. The reality is that some of us will be voting to Stop Zuma to minimise the chances of blushes in downtown Manhattan. Others will be voting to ensure that they get to keep their blue Audis. And others will be voting to ensure that only Jacks and Jills conjoin in South Africans bedrooms — preferably missionary style as is consistent with the Old Testament teachings in the Holy book.
I lack the wisdom to know with any certainty whether voting according to the wide array of our narrow interests is a good or a bad thing. One sort of hopes that the statistical mean of all these interests yields more or less the “correct” balance that this semi-desert we call home requires. I can’t help but think that it’s a step away from voting according to personalities and general sentiment. It’s a step towards issue-based voting patterns.
In the meantime, allow me to give a shut-out to just two individuals who don’t care what you think. I know exactly what their respective narrow interests are and how they’ll vote. Pieter Mulder will be voting for the realisation of a proper Oranje. Jimmy Manyi will be voting for affirmative action. We all know exactly where they stand. I guess that, going down the home stretch, it’s those two horses in contention for me.
I’ve said this before, but it’s hard to resist that Freedom Front Plus. Plus, I already have an unfashionable East Rand domicilium citandi, a pair of near-veldskoene in my wardrobe and a penchant for Klippies-and-Coke. The transformation is almost complete.