The Morning After
Now that the 2014 National Elections have come and gone and we’ve all had a chance to reflect on the results, this maybe a sober time to have a discussion about the choices that we made at the ballot box (assuming you decided to vote). If you’re one of those who didn’t vote as a form of protest or couldn’t be bothered about voting you need to sit down and “shut up” because your opinion in running the country doesn’t count. Further, this discussion is directed at those “dinosaurs” that were born pre-1985 because they would have had a brush with the apartheid state.
Most people who have recollections of life under apartheid (black and white) would admit that their vote was based on sentiment rather than on any election manifesto. That sentiment is either that: “I’m attached to the party that liberated the country therefore I will always vote for the liberation party no
IN BLACK & WHITE | Pumulani Ncube
matter what” or alternatively on the sentiment that: “I cannot bring myself to vote for the incumbent ruling party just because of who they are”. Whatever your vote was you’ll have to live with it for the next five years, and hopefully in those five years perhaps you need to reflect on some pertinent issues.
One analyst outlined the choices about voting succinctly as follows: if you believe the future of your precious children are better off in the hands of the incumbent ruling party you would have voted for the incumbent party. On the other hand if you believed the future of your precious children were better off in the hands of another party you would have voted the opposition into power. Practically, the easiest thing to do if I’m not happy with the way the incumbent party is educating my children is to take my children to a private school; and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but you better hope that when you’ve moved on to the next life your children will have the means to take their kids to private schools and even more importantly you better hope you have a governable country to be able to have those private schools. If you can’t guarantee that the ballot box provides you with options to fix that future. Your vote is not about instant gratification on your emotions but it’s a vote for generations yet to come.
We have a democracy born out of a culture of defiance and at times, as South Africans, we forget that we have a functioning democracy where we go to polls every five years. The basic rule of that democracy says you can vote and campaign freely for the party of your choice. Parliament passes the laws of the land and should anyone not be happy with laws passed they have all sorts and manner of recourse which ultimately end up with the constitutional court. It’s our constitutional right to voice our concerns and take pot shots on various platforms about how happy or unhappy we are with the incumbent ruling party and the laws passed but ultimately your power is in the ballot box and your ability to campaign and vote for the party of your choice. Defiance campaigns are planting the wrong seeds in our children. If you are unhappy about the laws play by the rules and don’t choose which laws or rules to obey, that’s not how the game is played.
A colleague of mine once produced this gem, the era of the traditional fax machine is long gone, it doesn’t matter how much you innovate around the fax machine that golden era of the fax machine will never come back. Liberation credentials are probably significant to the generation(s) that experience that era and a simple fact of life is that each generation will move on to the next life, therefore trying to force your liberation credentials on a generation that has no relation to your struggle is taking the next generation for granted and assuming they can’t think without realising that each generation has its own struggle unrelated to liberation. There are probably only two elections at the most where you can use liberation credentials as a trump card. If your vote was based on liberation think again; on numbers alone you’ll be outvoted pretty soon as the majority of the voting population will have no relation to your struggle.
In sport you can only play the man a few times before the referee gives you a red card or the crowd gets ‘gatvol’ with you. That analogy should be loosely directed at the incumbent opposition party. You can continually attack the man for a period of time after a while people just develop a thick skin regarding your attacks whether you have a valid point or not. You need to stop being an opposition party for the sake of it and produce credible alternatives. The easiest thing is to criticise without offering viable solutions. More importantly stop assuming that people who have voted for the winning party are like sheep being herded. Your role is to legally and freely convince them of the alternatives and start owning some of their issues as well.
Like all nations we have our own set of ills and these range from corruption to service delivery to lack of security; the list is endless. One of the issues that probably differentiates progressive democracies from regressive democracies is that whenever a clown (who probably hasn’t finished school) burns a library in the name of democracy the progressive voices in that very community will rise up to deal with the problem in the right channels and will hand over the culprits and not wait for the state because the community cares for their children and grandchildren. Do not be surprised one day when the same library burning clown who never finished school is now running your municipality. When you look back at the rot (should there be one) don’t forget you had your chance to change all that when you were all alone in the ballot box.
In the next five years you’ll have added another half decade to your life and your precious children will have moved half a decade into to the future that you voted for them. USE YOUR VOTE WISELY.