Apologies for not posting in more than a week, but my laptop didn’t like the last Windows 7 update it downloaded, and decided to go on the Fritz. I had wanted to post on several things, and maybe this weekend I will. Today, I’m writing about something else.
I voted in the Municipal Elections today. I walked to the station early in the morning and stood in the queue. When my time came, my name was crossed off a list and my left thumbnail was marked. Then I was given two ballot papers (one for my Ward Councillor, one for a Proportional Representative) and went to a booth. Finally, I dropped the ballots in their respective boxes.
Elections in South Africa are on a five-year cycle. The combined National and Provincial Elections last occurred in 2009 and will next happen in 2014. I first voted in 1996, in the Municipal Elections. To ensure that anyone who was eligible had the opportunity to vote, today was a public holiday.
There is generally a lot of voter apathy in South Africa. Turnout in the last elections was close to half. I vote because I take the view that, if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about your elected representatives. Having said that, I know of a comedy sketch that refers to the US Presidential Elections in 2000.
“So the presidential candidates are George W Bush and Al Gore. Wow, what a choice! Would you like your leg amputated just above the knee, or just below it?”
In some countries, it is illegal not to vote. I personally don’t agree with this, but I can understand why they do it. Bolivia has had literally dozens of coups and coup attempts. In Austria, they probably remember that Adolf Hitler won an election where only 27% of the electorate bothered to turn out. Australia gives voters a “None of the Above” option on the ballot paper. These are just three of the countries where voting is compulsory.
Lastly, a joke.
An MP dies and arrives at the Pearly Gates. St Peter meets him, and shows him around. The MP looks around heaven, and likes what he sees. The houses are nice; the weather is pleasant; the recreational facilities are good; people are nicely dressed and happy. Then St Peter tells him “We have a deal with Hell. If a person shows up here, we must take them to see hell so that they can decide where they wish to spend eternity.”
The MP gets in a lift and goes down to hell. Here, he is amazed. The houses in Hell are mansions. There are abundant recreational facilities including Golf courses and nightclubs. The MP can see a beach, and feels a sea breeze on his face. People are walking around in tailored suits and look very happy. After the tour, the MP gets in the lift and goes back to heaven.
The next day, St Peter comes to the MP and asks him where he would like to spend eternity. The MP replies, “I choose hell.” St Peter looks at him and says “You’ll regret it.” “I don’t think so” answers the MP.
The MP rides the lift down to hell, but as the doors open, he gets a shock. The mansions and recreational facilities are gone. Hell is a desolate area with here and there a few hovels. The ground is rocky and hard. The sea is an angry foaming tempest. The weather is rainy and a vicious, nippy wind is blowing. Lastly, the people are dressed in rags and look despondent.
Bewildered, the MP turns to the demon on duty. “What’s going on? Where are the mansions? And the golf courses? And the tailored suits? And, and and..?”
The demon smiles at him. “It’s quite simple really.
Yesterday we campaigned.
Today you voted.”