My decision to vote again: the saga continues…

Just a recap of recent events:

  • I decide to vote again after 16 years
  • I try to register to vote and am turned away by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for not having the right identity document
  • I vow to persist in making myself eligible to vote
  • The ANC’s foolish and desperate threats to those contemplating voting for opposition parties, makes it even more imperative to get this right and vote against them

With the last event still fresh in my mind and fighting against wicked thoughts to do something more drastic, I headed to a Home Affairs office close to my place of work. Having heard the horror stories about the gross levels of incompetence and inefficiency at these shrines to bureaucracy, I decided to get there early and leave myself enough time to face the anticipated failings of this arm of government.

Well, I wasn’t disappointed; in the accuracy of the horror stories at least. I was disappointed that these bumbling fools could only manage to change the furniture in the Home Affairs office, after 16 years of promising to be different from the old Apartheid regime. Everything else in the tiny room appeared to have remained the same. Iron mesh reminiscent of a prison cell covering the windows, large posters of the inept bureaucrats in charge of Home Affairs and an insincere Value and Mission Statement on the walls, a small fan rather than an air-conditioning unit straining to keep the room cool, and the same disorganization, inefficiency and arrogance that I experienced in the old days.

Three hours and a bit later and 90 bucks lighter in pocket [50 for the photographs and 40 for the documents], I forced my way out of that Home Affairs office through a throng of irate people, clutching in my hands a temporary identification certificate like a prized ancient manuscript. Off course, I didn’t take the promise of a permanent new green identity document in 8 weeks very seriously, especially after watching the helpless look on the face of the women who was turned away because her ID was not ready after more than 8 weeks.

Safely back in my office, I wondered how a government can spend R100-million on a monstrously frivolous event such as the World Festival of Youth and Students which was held here in South Africa recently, but not have the same vision to provide essential and decent facilities for its citizens. And then it struck me that their primary concern when spending that money was to buy votes from the youth [or those hooligans in the Youth Leagues who claim to be youthful].

Well, I’ve got my ridiculous piece of paper which proves that I am who I claim to be. What’s important is it allows me to register to vote. And my vote can’t be bought.

And so I went to register to vote…

Having made the important decision to participate in this years’ local government elections, I set aside Saturday to go through the process of registering. Little did I realise what was in store for me.

I live in a little backwater town – people outside town probably have smallholdings which are larger. The local civic centre is normally used as a registration point and voting station; at least that’s what I still remembered from the national government elections in 1994. I arrived at the civic centre and was told that I could not register there because I lived in the new part of town. So I was directed to another registration point at a local school in the new part of town.

When I got there, some men standing outside the school in ANC t-shirts beckoned for me to come over. In my mind I told them to fuck off, but the words that actually came out my mouth were “I’m fine thanks; I’m just here to register and will find everything on my own.”

I met an Independent Electoral Commission official inside the school who I remembered as a former colleague at the company I’m employed at. He directed me to two ladies at a desk who proceeded to make a cursory check to see if I was on the voter’s roll, even after telling them that I had last voted in 1994 and was most likely not listed. Images of Zimbabwe’s voters roll containing dead and ancient people flashed through my mind.

Having lost my “green” identity document fuck knows when, I produced my passport and was handed a registration form. The IEC official wasn’t sure if this was acceptable proof of identification and thumbed furiously through a handbook to find the relevent clause which would permit me to register or not. He found what he was looking for and pronounced that my passport was an invalid identity document. He advised me to get a temporary identity document, presumably from the Department of Home Affairs or Local Affairs or whatever the fuck these useless bureaucrats call themselves these days.

Now this is a first for me. My passport is accepted everywhere else in South Africa as a valid identity document, even the fucking banks, and you know how anal they can be about something like that. But the fucking IEC does not think it is valid! I know the IEC did not dream this idiotic requirement up themselves. No, they must surely have had help; and this bureaucratic dumbfuckery smacks of government interference.

So now I have to get a fucking temporary identity document that will have the same details and (if I can still find it) the same photograph as my passport as well. All to please these idiotic IEC officials and presumably the fucker’s in government as well.

But I’m not defeated yet – I’ll be back…