Picture: EPA/KEVIN SUTHERLAND
Picture: EPA/KEVIN SUTHERLAND

Politicians! You really can’t trust them. They will discard you faster than you can say "I have voted!" Within hours of voting stations closing on Wednesday, former DA leader Helen Zille was on Twitter, waging war on those young guns from the #FeesMustFall movement. Zille showed her style of leadership by tweeting that because the Fallists said they didn’t feel too comfortable at the University of Cape Town then they should not get state funding for their studies.

Eh? Is that Donald Trump or PW Botha or Idi Amin I spy under that steely smile? Are we to infer that under a Zille presidency we would be deprived of some state function because we do not agree with her on something?

Imagine if it was Jacob Zuma saying that. Zille would be jumping up and down.

Did Zille care? She had got our votes in the morning and is now free to offend us as much as she likes for the next three years, when she will come knocking at our doors again.

Oh, then there’s ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe. As the results trickled in and showed a marked decrease in voter turnout in townships, he too felt the need to give us his wise observations.

"Black people do not appreciate the value of voting," he moaned. He claimed that black people at "branch level" often threatened to withhold their votes to voice their dissatisfaction‚ while white people used the polls to give voice to theirs.

Well, what more can you say? I am sure many voters who got up at 4am to be in queues at 5am and vote for the ANC wish they knew that Mantashe held them in such low esteem.

My enthusiasm for electoral democracy is not about to be dampened by these two "leaders", though. You have to love democracy. When it works, it’s a gorgeous thing.

My abiding memory of this election came on Thursday afternoon as the results trickled in. As disappointment followed disappointment, I watched the faces of the politicians gathered at the elections centre. Oh, the pain and joy of the ANC hub of leaders when they realised that Zuma’s home town, Nkandla, was in IFP hands! I would have paid money to witness that again. The people had spoken.

Anyway, just to soothe my brow, off I went to the Results Operations Centre (ROC) canteen for some sustenance. This is the pop-up restaurant that the IEC puts up for journalists and other weary workers at the centre. I love it. You can only go to it twice every five years — for the national election and for the local election two years later. You, too, can go — just wait for the national election in 2019.

The food selection is a bit like the election. There are loads of starters and salads (that’s the campaigning period, when the parties are testing their strength), followed by the mains (that’s Election Day, when you, the voter, have a chance to say something) and the desserts (when the political parties get their just desserts).

The fare was pretty grim by the time I got there. For mains you could have pap, potato wedges, carrots in a yellowy cream sauce, deep-fried hake and something wrapped in tin-foil for those with "special dietary requirements". There are drinks of all kinds, but nothing alcoholic. That’s a shame.

I tasted the fish. It wasn’t the gourmet meal I was hoping for, but it was all right. The ladies smiled angelically when they served me.

I became philosophical: the food was lousy, the politicians were showing their true colours, but what a great election, free and fair and peaceful, we the people had!

***** Results Operations Centre Canteen
IEC Tshwane Events Centre,
205 Soutter Street, Pretoria
Tel: (012) 327-1487

***** IEC
**** Excellent
*** Good
** Poor
* Nkandla

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