SMOKE: End Of The Nats

Originally published: 21 April 2004

I haven't entered into the election fray too deeply (in fact - I've hardly mentioned the elections at all), simply because I haven't been particularly interested.

I've kept tabs on it all from a safe distance, but now that the last few "electoral irregularities" squabbles are gradually fading into obscurity (let's face it - who cares?) I thought it prudent to sit back and take stock of what our political map is looking like.

Fear not - this article shall not be punctuated with grey suits and boring speeches. When I think politics the first thing that comes to mind is perspiring, fat, cocaine-nippled white men strangling themselves with garter belts and the like, so my take on politics is usually tinged with a liberal dose of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Right - let's start with Kortbroek (to the uninitiated: Kortbroek is an Afrikaans term meaning literally "short pants", and refers to New National Party leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk). Not exactly your typical rock legend, but he'll do for starters.

I've got no problem with anyone voting for the Ex-Crimes-Against-Humanity Party, but surely to do so you would need the leader of the party to look at least a little like Brad Pitt? Why would you vote for them otherwise?

Most people like to consider themselves a good judge of other people, and indeed - ou Kortbroek might be just the most swell guy around. But look at the man, for goodness' sake - is that somebody you would entrust your vote to?

Compare him to Tony Leon, say - Tony might be chock-full of democracy and himself, but at least you can look at him and say: "Yeah, alright - I see a guy who looks like he might know how to spell his own name and engage in an intelligent debate over supper on the Sudanese Problem - I don't mind throwing him a vote and seeing what he does with it".

But you want to give Kortbroek a firm smack and send him to bed without any supper, don't you? I certainly do. I think it's the shiny, comfortable face which - when married to the side parting on the dome - causes fleeting moments of unreasonable rage.

Or maybe it's just the party he represents. "New" is an adjective, so let's remove it for now and we're left with the National Party.

Now I don't know about you, but surely that name should be as reviled as the Nazi Party, say? Would it be acceptable in Germany today to have a New Nazi Party, even if they profess their dedication to democracy and apologise for their sins of the past?

Doesn't the name alone conjure up images of a dark, unpleasant past? If Charles Manson says "Sorry", does that make his crimes any less heinous?

To be honest I find it astounding that a party that once stood for everything that is wrong with society - run by a bunch of evil, satanic butchers - should even be allowed to still exist, much less get airtime for their cause.

But what's even more extraordinary is that the vast majority of their support comes from the very people they once oppressed - does nobody spot the problem here? Does everyone just think "Oh, OK, fair enough"?

Am I the only one who finds it odd that coloured people in the Western Cape have been responsible - up until the 2004 elections - for keeping in power the party that once forced them out of their homes and relocated them to racially-segregated areas, tortured their sons and fathers in brutal police cells, and raped them of decades of freedom?

I mean - I'm sure there's a reason for it, but for the life of me I can't think of it. It's just a bit bloody creepy.

Still - each to their own, as they say. Maybe it was temporary madness, because now the NNP has lost masses of support and their 1.65 percent of the national vote in the 2004 elections represents their worst showing at a general election in their 90-year history.

I'd be tempted to say it's the end of the road for the Nats, although politics makes strange bedfellows of politicians, and you never know who's going to hop into the sack and with whom.

But rest assured there will be a lot of fidgeting under the covers - the NNP is already holding crisis talks and dreaming of coalitions and saving their sorry asses, and with 7 seats in parliament (and an as-yet undetermined representation in the provincial legislature) you would figure them to keep going in some state for a while yet.

Back to the coloured vote briefly - Tashi was interviewing voters on election day and all the young coloured people she spoke to were extremely apathetic about voting. She spoke to a young flower-seller called Nazeem, who said the following:

"I never registered because it doesn't bother me at all. It won't be an advantage and it won't be a disadvantage ... like I think ... we coloured people were never part of the voting ... I don't think it will change our lives. It's just another day going by for me."

When Tashi asked him if the coloured people were affected when democracy arrived in South Africa 10 years ago, he said:

"Not actually. Nothing changed for the coloured people at all. That was like that and it will still be like that in 20 years time. I think the younger generation - aged 20 to 30 - we're not bothered at all. Seriously. I will never vote."

Obviously Nazeem is not necessarily representative of all young coloured people, but I wonder if the coloured vote that has gone to the NNP in each election since 1994 was from an older electorate, and now that the young folks are reaching voting age they are more disillusioned than their parents were. Or more apathetic.

If you're apathetic it means your life never changes for the better despite constant political promises, which would suggest that the NNP hasn't delivered much to the coloured people of the Western Cape to keep them happy and voting.

Personally I can't wait to see a new provincial government. Between them the ANC and DA have 72.36 percent of the Western Cape vote, and you can do a lot worse than those two parties giving each other some stiff opposition.

And hopefully the Nats will bumble and burble away and eventually be lost to history.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
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