Christmas-type breezes and early darkening
skies mingle with election excitement. At one level we are like old and wise
people who have seen it all and can predict, given our country’s racial
split, that this three-way race will end in tears for one courageous leader,
in happy opposition for two jet-setters and a soaring victory for the fourth
who is set to snuggle down comfortably in the prime minister’s house in the
small hours of November 6.
At another level we are still children,
wondering if there is a wild card, a secret somewhere amidst ourselves that
will be revealed on November 5.
I still feel uncomfortable that the
results are so obvious. I predicted the exact results suggested by the Nacta
poll to an angry COP supporter and I am not a political analyst. Just a
I realise that cynicism is death to
idealism and if everyone thought like me there would be no change, no hope
and no new movement. Sometimes you need to bury your head in the sand to
burrow for change from below.
In the glory days of Selby Wilson (one
of our best finance ministers in the NAR, a truly golden era when people
everywhere demonstrated the might of the vote, rejected tribalism and united
for change) we knew that it didn’t matter which government came into power
they were going to have to do as the IMF told them to do in return for
lending us money.
Our politics were not of the left, or
the right, not liberal or conservative, or labour. Our politics were
“Conditionalities” of the IMF.
I feel sorry for our politicians and I
feel sorrier for the electorate.
The NAR phenomenon apart, our
politicians never matured. They led like children gone mad in a free sweet
shop with one eye on controlling and stealing the goodies and the other on
keeping the hoards who elected them tame (quiet and unquestioning) with
freebies from make-work programmes.
Like abandoned semi-literate children,
we were never given a chance to see what sort of politics suited us. We were
never educated about what we should look for in a representative. The
representative was never educated about what he should do for his
We were taught to aspire for material
gains in the west, but didn’t know how to work for it, or agitate for a
government that was going to allow us to get there.
One thing kept the wheels oiled and
rolling. Race. Politicians found it easy and voters found it easy. We never
moved beyond the ABC of politics.
We voted like sheep then, for people of
our own race, and we are going to vote like sheep again.
But one area where the world hasn’t been
able to touch us is our tolerance. Despite the damage politicians have done
with racial politics we have had six free and fair elections. Given our
demographic racial split it is astonishing how free we are of violence in
crowds of thousands, whether we are voting or drinking.
Apart from our young boys killing one
another for drugs or “make work” turf, the high functional illiteracy and
lack of sustainable jobs, which impoverishes people mentally as well as
materially, we are an incredible twin nation.
At this time of year, our country is
particularly beautiful. Soft light, cool breezes—our hills, coastline, lush
foliage, elicit the kind of weepy nostalgia only a lost love can.
I already know the outcome of the
elections. Yet, I am watching. Hoping we will respect one another as we
always have done and keep the peace rising as we always have, above “the
thugs” and “the politics.”