Wednesday, June 02, 2010
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I know we live in a wasteful society and we throw away enough food to feed the starving millions in India. And I know we live in an apathetic society where social intercourse is declining and individual isolation is rising.
But that’s another story.
Just think about that most precious thing that’s either rubbished and/or completely ignored – the vote.
Many people died to get it – from centuries ago right up until the present day – and yet it’s the one thing that’s treated so dismissively these days and mostly voters don’t even know they actually have a choice!
I grew up in a working class railway town and my Grandfather was a shop-steward in the union and most of my family worked for British Rail.
I used to enjoy talking to him about labour disputes and politics but the one thing that really puzzled me was his thoughts on the General Election vote (and he was a smart man). When I asked what party he thought was “best” his answer was “it’s not about which is the best, it’s about which one represents us.” I think he meant the class system in Britain (which was denied vehemently at the time but which still, of course, exists) and he added “this family always votes Labour.”
That was that. No discussion. Not even the slightest consideration for the Conservatives. It was “us” and “them”.
So, naturally, I became a hippie and joined the “Free Love Party” and grew my hair long. I’m not sure what it actually stood for but I do fully remember that it was the duty of every member to shag as many members of the opposite sex as possible. And as a fairly intellectual kid that kind of appealed to me.
Come to think of it, it still does.
But things change and Britain went through a “social revolution” and the class system went underground. Suddenly people with Cockney accents were reading the news on TV and miners were going on holiday to Torremolinos.
Then the General Vote became more important and candidates (parties) had support from fuzzy demographics. Government suddenly had to adapt.
Then, just as the voters were getting it right, the illuminati got worried and introduced gimmicks like iPods which would keep us occupied and our thoughts away from corruption and wars (because the capitalist system cannot work without war of course) and the whole concept crumbled.
All this happened over a period of about 50 years and, in South Africa, it’s wonderful to watch the same scenario playing itself out again – but in less than half the time because we’re a lot smarter these days.
Nobody was surprised when the ANC won the first election. It had to, quite rightly, happen.
But then my Grandad’s curious “us and them” theory came into play.
The majority of the population knew, deep down, that their leaders were failing us and yet, just like my Grandfather, the majority continued to blindly vote for the “us” party – the ANC.
It was with great joy then that I saw the results of two important by-elections in the Cape last week. The DA won two by-elections, one in Heideveld/Gugulethu and one in Grabouw. These were considered safe “black” ANC seats as there were only about 4 white voters in those constituencies (and they couldn’t be bothered to leave the pub).
The DA has always been branded a “white” party (and “racist” too for that matter) and was a “them” party.
Well the results must have come as a huge shock to the ANC and, even now, they must be feeling that awful rumbling down in their bowels when you begin to realise that wheels are starting to come off. “Something’s going wrong” I can hear them wailing.
The DA has now won eight seats from the ANC in by-elections since the 2009 election. In fact, the ANC has not won a single by-election in the Western Cape in this period.
In a nutshell, the answer is that the ANC has started losing their “blind loyalty” support. Voters are finally waking up to the fact that it’s not “us” or “them” anymore.
This is seriously good news. It’s fabulous news in fact!
I am overjoyed not because I want the DA to win or the ANC to lose (I don’t support any politician). It’s wonderful because Members of Parliament are now realising that their supporters actually do have minds of their own. And this means they have to actually start doing some work to keep their support. Because if they’re smug then they’ll start losing seats – as Helen Zille’s party proves every time she takes ANC seats from under their very noses.
“Knowing they won't ever be voted out of office is what leads politicians to abuse power and to steal people's money in an ever-worsening spiral of corruption. They have the freedom to loot with freedom from accountability.” (Zille)
I’ve written before about the fact that there’s not ONE African continental country that’s actually succeeded economically and to the benefit of its citizens. It’s the “blind loyalty” factor that keeps corrupt politicians in power.
So, take heart, the recent by-election results are a clear sign that South Africa may be the FIRST country on this continent to actually be successful (in every sense of the word).
It’s absolutely wonderful news – and no matter which party you support it means that politicians are going to have to stay on their toes. The restlessness of the people is finally beginning to manifest itself.
And as for racial tension? What about it? Take a look at those around you in Orlando Stadium and the fact that we’re ALL trying to make visitors here feel welcome.
It’s a vitally important watershed and it’s seriously good news for everyone.
By the way, I want to start the “Free Love Party” again so if you’d like to join then send me an email. The only qualifications you need are loose morals and a set of Jimi Hendrix records.