National

The antidote to the election blues

Verashni Pillay

Ignore the prophets of doom – there is good reason to be upbeat about the upcoming polls.

There's always a wait in the voting queue, so go prepared.

Communist red, liberal blue or broad-church green, black and yellow: Here are seven things to keep the political palette palatable this election year.

1. It's not the end of the world
We have had four already, haven't we? But everyone from your favourite radio personality turned opinionista to that guy you followed on Twitter because you felt bad for him and his 10 followers will be telling you this is a Big Deal. Don't be overwhelmed. This, too, shall pass – and soon our leaders will go back to ignoring us.

2. The truth? Try elsewhere
Politicians fudge the truth at election time. But a new website, AfricaCheck.org (partnered with the University of the Witwatersrand journalism school), may change that; already it has started taking apart some so-called truths.

3. Blue plus red does not purple make
The true-blue liberal Democratic Alliance's kids have been growing fast. They have big schemes of running Gau­teng, but they will probably need a coalition to do it. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is also gaining strength in South Africa's economic heartland but a mix of Julius Malema's party and the DA would be a bit like that Glee episode where they tried to do a mashup of I Could Have Danced All Night and The Thong Song.

4. So many parties, so little time
This election sees several new entrants: Malema, Mamphela Ramphele and even Kenny Kunene. Kunene contesting elections may seem odd but so did the Dagga Party. Given Kunene's party-hopping, we're not holding out for much more than a few parties and some free sushi.

5. Mandela's death and free ANC advertising
The death of the iconic leader gave the ANC licence to relive its glory days. But the boos that greeted ANC president Jacob Zuma at Mandela's memorial service showed that the ANC has its work cut out for it. It could well fall short of its previous majority with the born-frees appearing on the voters' roll. The EFF has made inroads among them and, if it can get them to register and vote in numbers, could swing the vote away from the ANC in places such as Gauteng.

6. It'll be kinda awesome to have Malema in Parliament
Juju's policies may be totally nuts but, damn, can he hold an audience! Since his expulsion from the ANC, Malema has graduated from potty-mouthed angry young man to a leader with serious speaking skills. He may be the best speaker among our politicians but, considering the competition, that's not exactly saying very much. As comedian Trevor Noah put it during the president's address at the Mandela memorial, was Zuma downloading the speech as he read it? And on Telkom bandwidth, nogal.

7. Wear a hat
Or take an umbrella: there's no need to risk dehydration and sunburn every time we vote. Also take water, comfortable shoes, fully charged mobile devices, a friend and a snack. There's always a wait in the voting queue but the nice thing is that most South Africans don't mind.


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