Who are you voting for?

Henry

Marriage is not horse buying. Don’t vote either. It is a commitment of five years to a party or person in whom you place your trust.

Personally, I think it’s like a high school relationship where one of the parties is (literally) not 100% reliable and often changes partners.

There are certainly parties that do more than others, act more responsibly and focus more on service delivery; it’s like that. However, it is also not difficult if one thinks that the benchmark is the ANC which really does nothing, blames everyone and never accepts responsibility.

It was not difficult for me to decide who I was going to vote for and a questionnaire I recently filled in confirmed that my chosen party does align with my personal ideology in terms of its charter. I think it is actually very important for everyone who votes to know what the South Africa you want to live in looks like and then align your vote with a party or person who will act closest to that ideal.

My children are naturally full of questions. Why should one vote if the ANC is going to win anyway? Why is one not allowed to tell anyone? Why do you have to be 18? And so it goes on.

I remember as a child we were interested, but the processes and implications of the voting felt further away to me than the children of today experience it. For example, our neighborhood had no power until 10pm last night. They know what it means to have to get up extra early to accommodate traffic lights that are affected by load shedding. They know what it feels like when faucets run dry or how they couldn’t walk three blocks home from school because the neighborhood has become very run-down and unsafe.

Our children are confronted every day with the failures and incompetence of the ANC and other parties, in municipalities where services are not provided.

Although they are resilient and do not know another normal, I constantly make sure that my children know that this is not how things should work and that we should not accept these circumstances. Sitting back and watching is not part of our DNA and it is certainly not how we will behave. And act, shall we.

Precisely because of this I was able to answer the questions easily. Because the more people vote, the greater the chance that the ANC will not get a majority vote. I believe every vote counts and every drop of water fills the bucket. And then you can complain. My home economics teacher said at the time, if you pay for something you can complain about it. If you don’t pay, you just say thank you. In this case I feel tax is not enough. With my vote, I actively participate in the appointment of the persons who must manage my taxes and I only feel more entitled to demand accountability.

You can tell someone if you want. But the process is a secret so that people cannot influence or intimidate each other. It is a private matter. You do as you see fit.

And finally, because the assumption is that you do not have the capacity to make responsible decisions before your 18th birthday. I don’t get carried away by the sense of responsibility that so suddenly descends on an 18-year-old’s birthday and makes him or her competent for a number of things that he or she may now do.

The questions I myself have about the election are drastically different from those of my children. My husband and I and colleagues have long conversations about possibilities and implications of what we can expect and how things will look. I wonder about coalition possibilities, about power and water, about keeping our schools and safety. I wonder about the government; about who will eventually sit in parliament and what its composition will look like. I wonder how long it will take before we will feel the good or the bad – after all it took us a decade or three before we felt the real impact of the ANC government.

What I do not feel is fear. Whoever is in the hot seat, I am very sure of one thing. The minority group(s) of which I am a part do not let us be intimidated or thwarted by a willful and malicious state. We like to work and like to roll up our sleeves. We love excellence and learn hard. We love performance and throw everything into the fight.

We love freedom and do not give in at its expense. We believe in a future for our children, that there is always a way out and that we will not be defeated. We are believers and our strength does not lie in ourselves.

I’ll be watching the next few weeks with curiosity. I do my part and I draw my cross. And you?