I had to take my other half to the voting station because he was a Party Agent, starting at 5.45am. I figured I might as well go from there to my voting station and though I would wait, at least I’d be one of the first to vote. I figured I could be done by 7.05am. Not bad for a voting day. I arrived before 6.00am. There were 6 or 7 people in front of me. The queue started to really get long from 6.30 onwards. By 7.00am you could see, if you craned your neck, that the queue stretched five hundred metres to the corner, and around.
At 7am the voting station didn’t open. We waited. At 7.15 someone came out and announced that they were splitting the queue alphabetically. Really? And they choose this time to tell us? They couldn’t have put up signs from the get go?
Naturally, what ensued was chaos and arguments about who got there first, who was in front of whom and etc. There was a little blond chick who was claiming loudly that she was in front of the people who were in front of me. I made her aware that I saw her arriving so she should forget about it. One of the Party Agents collected everyone who looked black and poor and brought them en masse to the front of the alphabetical P-Z queue. My queue. There was a flurry of protest from those around me, but I thought, ‘whatever’! So I let them go in front of me and I told the woman behind me to shut up and chill. I mean, what’s the point in fighting it? Let them go ahead and then we will vote. We’re not being denied the right to vote.
I kind of wanted to tell her that they have more right to vote than she does because she doubtless voted for the NATS in years gone by and look what a fuck up that was and look at the cost to human life and human dignity. I wanted to tell her that she should be grateful that she hasn’t been denied the right to vote because that right was used so heinously during the apartheid years. I wanted to accuse that she voted for the oppression of these people in years past. I wanted to tell her to shut up and get out of their way. I was thinking all this, but I didn’t say it. What would have been the point? She would have denied voting for the NATS, everyone denies ever voting for the NATS. I imagine her response would have begun with the words ‘Just because I’m white………’ Besides, it’s the New South Africa. Why be racially divisive? Especially when I spent part of last night arguing with someone who were being racially divisive. OK, not arguing, discussing. I was in defence of our ‘unity in diversity’. Besides, I wasn’t really pissed off at her, I was pissed off at the IEC.
The people who really piss me off are the ones with the ink. I told that chick, who looked like a convict with her bleary eyes and her nasty hair and her hideous clothes and repellent demeanour. ‘Rough’ does not begin to describe the chick with the ink. Anyway, I asked her to please make a small dot. I asked her not colour my whole thumbnail. So what did she do? She coloured my whole thumbnail. I didn’t know whether to be irritated or amused. She certainly made her point. Yeah, I guess she didn’t like me either. Ah well, whatcha gonna do?
From there I went to the Mug and Bean for much needed caffeine. I thought I’d take a cup to my Lovah too. Shame, I’m sure he was gasping. So I sat down at a free table and the woman at the next table told me it’s reserved for her friends. I told her, as sweetly as I could manage, that I was so sorry, but since I saw neither the reserved sign nor the friends, I wasn’t moving. Then I smiled at her, as sweetly as I could manage. She scowled and turned back to her table. I should have checked her thumb for disfigurement. I wonder if she was from the voting station. But then, when the whole nation has yet another day off, why would you be out of your bed at that hour unless to vote and I’ll bet she had a discreet little dot that would only be noticed if her thumb was subjected to scrutiny.
I took my Lovah his coffee. He was grateful. There was a woman claiming to be from Soweto tv at his voting station. She asked me to speak on camera about why voting is important. I did. I told her the usual stuff about the privilege of voting, and being a participant in your destiny and etcetera. I think I talked a little too much, but after the caffeine and the early start, I was feeling punchy and if you’re me punchy means verbose. Then I got a call from my Ward Chairman asking me to go to Saxonwold to give someone a ride, so off I dutifully went, but when I got there the person had gone, so I came back home. It’s now 9.30am and already I feel like I’ve done half a day. I have to do my Party Agent shift from 1.00pm – 6.00pm. We have got to get more volunteers into this ward.
At my voting station there was a guy who was trying to explain away the chaos to someone. He had an accent that sounded like it came from Eton College or Oxford University in England. I wondered if he was even South African. But then I had to remind myself that my own accent is incredibly pommy. One must look beyond the obvious in South Africans. Many of us South Africans are books whose covers reveal little of our content.