Sex innuendo stuff of polls

Redi Direko

Redi Direko

I am going to miss the election period. Elections provide the greatest opportunity for us to get to know the men and women who claim to be driven by the best interests of this country.

On any other occasion, our politicians are boring, unruffled and as interesting as a blank wall. Come election time, this veneer of self-control comes off. So do the gloves.

Over the past few weeks the language and tone of politicians has undergone a thorough metamorphosis. Maybe I have a dirty mind, but I have observed their tendency to employ sexual innuendo and analogy in their debates. Opposition parties often accuse the ruling ANC of "being in bed" with criminals.

Bantu Holomisa of the UDM will insist that the ANC is "busy chowing the carcass of the NNP". While campaigning for the PAC in the 2004 elections, Motsoko Pheko did not take kindly to the now-abolished floor-crossing. He said "crosstitution" was akin to turning the right to vote into "a condom to be discarded once the moment of pleasure had passed".

The man of the cloth - or the Afro - could not be outdone. Reverend Kenneth Meshoe has made some acerbic comments about Outcomes Based Education. The ACDP leader argues that the only notable outcome of OBE is that it has produced "children who know more about sex than arithmetic".

I am not sure how Meshoe arrived at this conclusion, maybe he asked the "children" to count the number of people they had slept with and they came up with wrong calculations. It's just a hunch.

And then there's the fashion. Our politicians are fodder for comedians and cartoonists. I am surprised the make-up on Helen Zille's Botoxed (anti-wrinkle treatment) face has not melted while campaigning in the scorching heat. In fairness though, she looks very good.

Poor Mvume Dandala, like Thabo Mbeki, his idea of being casual while doing a walkabout is to wear a suit and merely take off the tie and undo the top button of his formal shirt. He has also adopted another one of Mbeki's "casual tricks" - the 1980s lumber jacket. Heard of Chinos, golf T-shirts le diteki? The less said about Holomisa's lemon jacket, Buthelezi's gold-striped black blazer and Mantashe's purple shirt, the better.

Oh, and Patricia de Lille is a beautiful woman, she must just kill the orange and red cassock - we know where to find Catholic priests.

Another wonderful aspect of elections is the accessibility of politicians. After ignoring us for four and a half years, they spend the few months before elections travelling to the remotest corners of South Africa to seek and secure our votes.

There's a must-have picture with the village drunk, hugging and kissing the toothless man down the road, and dancing with the big mama at the corner.

When the show is over, they return to their posh cars, leaving behind a trail of dust. And then the long wait for services, food, houses, jobs and health care begins, again. Four and a half years is too long a vigil. It is even longer when you are waiting on a hungry stomach.

Once the politicians have finished attacking each other and providing much merriment and entertainment, life must go on.

The meaning of voting should not be trivialised. All of us should reflect on the poignancy of the moment.

It is not just a cross next to the leader's face. The act of voting is simultaneously a statement of endorsement for those we trust with the welfare of our country and an act of defiance against those who have pillaged. The leaders of this country need to know that when we vote, we are doing our bit to show faith and trust.

We are communicating our heartfelt aspirations for this country of ours. Just because we are not politicians, it does not mean we love this country less than they do. They dare not take us for granted.

Voting is a gift, let's make it count. On April 22 let the title of Alan Paton's book Ah But Your Land is Beautiful ring true. Viva South Africa.