"Dad, who are you voting for?" asks Darren's daughter

"Dad, who are you voting for?" asks Darren's daughter

When picking up my daughter from school, I am used to us shooting the breeze and having her throw out random questions. However, this one really got me thinking...

casting vote into ballet box

It’s also really important to me that when we talk that I don’t talk down to her, or to any child for that matter. I also make sure that dependent on the category of conversation, I don’t lie to her.

That being said, we were on the way to ballet the other day after school and she asked me: “Dad, who are you voting for?”

I was quite taken aback with this line of questioning, and I said to her: “Baby, you do know that your vote needs to be a secret, right?”.

She replied: “No I didn’t, why?!”

I’m thinking to myself, why does a vote have to be a secret? For me, some of the answers are simple. I went on to explain that if someone is aware of the party you are leaning towards it leaves you open to alternative parties using that information to either bribe or threaten you into changing your vote. 

Whether you are the president of a political party or the president of the country, your vote needs to remain a secret. There is no name on a ballot, you make your mark on the said ballot, they, in turn, mark your nail to show that you have voted and to avoid you voting multiple times, and (in an ideal world) all the votes are counted. So, it’s important to ensure that everyone’s vote remains a secret, even within the family.

“But I know who mom is voting for," she piped up from the back seat.

“Your mom shouldn’t be telling you, baby, but who did she vote for?” (Just kidding).

“Well, mom has changed her vote three times," said Mouse.

“Yes, I can see that happening."

She gives it some thought and says: “Yes, I can see how that can be a problem and why it needs to be a secret, but who would you vote for, Dad?”

This is where things get a bit complicated. The difference between my vote and the general public vote is that because I am in broadcasting and I keep an eye on the political landscape – not only in South Africa, but worldwide – I have done a bit more research when it comes to political parties

I know their parties better, I know their mandates better, and I know their history better. So, in order for her to get the answer she’s looking for, I tell her that she would be better off asking the people on the street for their opinions as my answer would be considered a super-informed decision

While we’re discussing this, I am acutely aware and in awe of the fact that I am still having this conversation with my ten-year-old child, who is taking a keen interest in understanding the workings of the country’s voting system.

She takes a moment to digest what I’ve told her, and asks: “Ok, I get that. But tell me this, what criteria would you use when comparing parties making a choice between one party over another?”

Again, I’m having to think about this. This isn’t an off-the-cuff decision for me, this is a process that I have had going around in my head and been following closely for a number of years. The decision I would be making will have ramifications not only for me, but my family and community.

I told her that if I had to sum it up all into one question it would be, which party is the least corrupt?

That, for me, is the main priority. I went on to explain that since I know their mandates, I have the opportunity to simplify things and break it down for her.

ANC - They’re a legacy party. They are the party that emancipated the country, gave us a semblance of freedom, as well as equality across the board. This is the wave they are riding.

EFF - These would be your radicals. They seem to be focusing on African people, which works for them, because that is what 80% of the population of South Africa is. They seem to be pushing the racial divide, which seems to be working around the world as well – ‘us against them’. Nationalism and isolationism are their agenda, which seems to be working for them, too - and I understand that.

DA - Their only campaign of late seems to be ‘We want to end the corruption – where we govern, we govern best’. They seem to be boasting about their governing, and a lot of evidence would suggest that if voters are voting one party nationally, they tend to go for DA as municipal, because they like how they govern, but do not necessarily trust all their overall policies. I think people still see the DA as the National Party.

UDM - They also seem to be pushing the line of ‘Let’s stop the corruption’. They also seem to be more aligned with the creation of jobs (which is a very tricky thing because of the 4th Industrial Revolution where we are getting less and less available jobs for the general populace when at the same time remaining competitive economically globally where so much is computerised and mechanised with robotics). They are in a very tricky situation, but I am very fond of Bantu Holomisa. I do like how he deals with other politicians and I’d like to see him in a leadership position, so I like UDM.

IFP - Known as ‘The other black party’, they are the could’ve, would’ve, should’ves and might still be associated with the violence which happened in KZN during our first equal elections. They are also going through flux now because of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi stepping down. I mean, he is old. It’s like Madiba, we would have loved to have had him around for another 100 years, but, unfortunately, as humans, we have an expiry date. The other thing is that the IFP was built around Buthelezi, which is where the spin-off of the IFP comes into play – the NFP, which is like the young IFP.

Then you have your smaller parties like the Minority Front or COPE – a split away from the ANC because they were too corrupt for them. 

Which brings me back to my original question. ALL politicians are corrupt, and not just in South Africa, but worldwide, in your functioning or socialist democracies, including Denmark and Norway. There is corruption everywhere, so for me I want the least corruption and I want us to get to as functional as possible, as quickly as possible, with as little collateral damage as possible.

So that will inform my decision. “That said, my baby girl, with a couple of weeks to go before the national elections, I still do not know who I am going to be voting for, and, in actual fact, on the day I might even have to flip a coin.”

Let’s just say that Mouse's musings on the way to ballet ends up with me on my toes more than her some days.  

Will you be casting your vote on Wednesday, 8 May 2019?

DISCLAIMER: This piece does not represent the views of East Coast Radio.

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