Tag Archive | voting

The Last Vote

With all the hype around the American elections and Brexit, I’m reminded of a vote which took place in our neighbourhood in the early 1960’s.

My parents used to help out at the polling station at the Scout Hall in Wychwood, Germiston, together with their friends and neighbours, Arthur and Megan Otty, who, like my parents, were supporters of the United Party.

At this particular local election, it fell to Arthur to fetch voters who did not have their own transport. Arthur drove up and down all day ferrying voters to and from the polling station. By just after 4.30 p.m. he thought he was done for the day when he realised he had forgotten to fetch Mrs Beech. But, as it was less than half an hour before the polls were due to close, he also realised that it was not likely that he would be able to get her there in time to vote. Arthur was tempted not to make the effort but, after a bit of coaxing, he decided that he would give it a try, so off he went.

He did his best and in this case, it was good enough! Arthur arrived back a couple of minutes before the polls closed with Mrs Beech in tow, who was a bit grumpy at having been forgotten. She told anyone who would listen that she had waited the whole day to be fetched. Fortunately, she managed to cast her vote just before cut off time. Arthur took her home again wondering if he should have bothered after getting an earful from her.

Then the counting began.

The two parties were neck and neck and this went on until all the votes were counted. It was cheers all round when the United Party beat the Nationalist Party by just one vote!

From then on, Arthur frequently told the story of how he single-handedly won the local election for the United Party.

Vote

2014 voter’s stamp

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South Africa, dear land…

I find it difficult to process what is going on in South Africa. My parents always voted against the Nationalist Party Government. I followed in their footsteps and when the whites had the opportunity to go to the polls to vote for/against the continuation of apartheid, my whole family voted for its abolishment. We delighted in the release of Nelson Mandela and had high hopes of a better future for all.

The lustre has faded and those first heady years after 1994 have disappeared.  My simplistic view was that we would all work hard and pay our taxes uncomplainingly to a democratic government. In turn, the government would improve the lot of previously disadvantaged groups in our county and we would try together to right the wrongs.The focus would be on the black communities and the main areas of improvement would in access to proper medical treatment, clean hospitals and clinics, children would be able to go to properly equipped schools and be taught by caring and competent teachers, communities would have clean, running water, functioning electricity and so on. In short basic needs would be given priority.

What a dismal failure that has turned out to be. The hospitals are filthy and the majority of staff uncaring, children are hungry and have to be taught under trees in the heat or cold after walking for miles to school without any shoes. Our politicians are corrupt, stealing out of the mouths of babes, the elderly and infirm. I could go on and on.

Two weeks ago the water meter was stolen from outside our offices. This meant water gushing down the street and no water in the offices. We had the damage repaired privately after the Municipality failed to respond. A Municipal worker jokingly told us that the meter would be replaced in a year or so and we should enjoy the free water in the meanwhile. I didn’t laugh as, from all accounts, he was close to the truth.

A week or so thereafter, the copper from our telephone and internet lines was stolen, so we had to operate via cell phones and mobile data for over a week. The Telkom technicians told us that they are inundated with problems relating to theft.

We sent a parcel to clients in December 2015. It arrived on the 31 March 2016 – three months to get from Pietermaritzburg to Johannesburg via the postal service. We now use private couriers – no wonder the Post Office is bankrupt.

Crime is all an all time high with endless farm attacks and robberies. Our present drought is exacerbated by leaking pipes, ailing infrastructure, inadequate dams. And don’t get me started on Eskom.

We have a deceitful president who flouts our constitution and has a “get out of jail free” card,  permanently affixed to his jacket by a bunch of merry men and women who are no better than he is. To me, all of the above indicates failure. Failure by the government to deal with crime, to look after its citizens and manage state owned enterprises which are drowning in debt and inefficiency.

Something needs to change, something has to give. We cannot allow ourselves to stay on this potholed road to nowhere.

In the words of  Nelson Mandela

“If the ANC does to you what the Apartheid government did to you,

then you must do to the ANC what you did to the Apartheid government.”

I hope and pray that voters in the coming elections heed his advice.

Cape

Sunset in the Cape