My ? Party will ensure free and confusing elections for all

The manifesto of ? will be made up of five tough questions only because it’s impossible to make empty promises in question form. (Shutterstock)

The manifesto of ? will be made up of five tough questions only because it’s impossible to make empty promises in question form. (Shutterstock)


Like so many South Africans with too much time on their hands, I’ve decided to register a party for the upcoming municipal elections to split the field so we can have an ineffectual election outcome.

Unfortunately, it’s too late to register – a one-man, one-party scenario is the sure-fire way to keep everyone happy – which means I and the other “small fish” will have to perform out of our skins to keep the country on its rudderless course. We’re up to the challenge.

To keep things simple I will name my party ?. With ? I hope to corner the swing vote, the idea being that with more than 200 parties registered sheer boredom will motivate voters to draw a cross over the only question mark on the ballot. It’s loosely based on the assumption that people have better things to do than vote.

? candidates will hit the campaign trail with a frown on their face.
They will go door-to-door and raise their shoulders when you open the door. (Please don’t give them food – they will not be saying they don’t have anything.) They will bring a message of confusion to indicate the ? Party does not have all the answers. Other parties’ candidates will also knock on your door and claim they do have all the answers. Ignore them and trust us. It’s called campaign strategy.

The manifesto of ? will be made up of five tough questions only because it’s impossible to make empty promises in question form:

Who is Mmusi Maimane? Will Election Day be a public holiday? Who is running this country anyway? Where is Cope? Are we really doing that badly for a 20-year-old democracy still finding its feet?

For ? Party’s posters I will borrow from the other parties as a metaphor for the often overlooked “togetherness” theme of the elections.

From the Democratic Alliance poster I will borrow the top left corner. It is blue with some colours from our national flag – a nice-to-have. From the ANC’s poster I will borrow their slogan and add a question mark. “Together advancing people’s power in every community” becomes “Together advancing people’s power in every community?”, which simultaneously sums up our lack of understanding and takes a stab at the opposition.

The Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) poster runners are doing a magnificent job plastering towns red as though they’re mainlining Red Bull. So I’ll poach them and let them loose on swing vote municipalities such as Aurora in the Western Cape.

The people of that town are unlikely to have heard of parties other than the DA and are most likely to choose a question mark on a ballot filled with black faces.

My facial expression on the posters will try to capture the ignorance of Jacob Zuma (president), the defiance of Julius Malema (EFF) and the goody two-shoes front of Maimane (DA). In other words, the face a child pulls when he’s caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Another option I’m playing with is to deface the posters the way the ANC had the DA do to their posters in Fish Hoek to get free press. The defaced version will feature a blank head silhouette so you can customise your candidate to suit your political bent. The Poster app will allow you to choose different outfits, weapons and, obviously, the colour of your candidate. It’s all about the gig economy these days.

I polled friends and family on whether they’ll vote for ? and the results were not great. In 2014, the trendsetting Keep It Simple Stupid (Kiss) party managed to secure 0.03% of the national vote. I don’t have the balls to use red lipstick for my logo, so I don’t expect a haul of that magnitude, but with so many confused South Africans out there I hope to come close.

JS Smit

JS Smit

JS Smit is a Cape Town-based freelance writer. Formally trained as a copywriter, he took a break from ads in 2010 to write a blog for the Mail & Guardian's Thought Leader and since 2015 has written for the Mail & Guardian. Read more from JS Smit

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