Difficult political choices simplified by a child

Little Egg judges from faces on party posters, discerning who will be a strict president and who will be a kind one.

I took the little Egg for a drive through our neighbourhood last weekend to look at hundreds of political posters on the lamp-posts.

I explained to her that all the different parties will stand in the elections at the end of next month and that the faces she can see on the posters are the leaders of those parties.

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“Who are you going to vote for?” she asked.

I explained that every person’s vote is confidential. That her mother, the lovely Snapdragon, will probably vote for the party with the blue and red posters, but that I will probably divide my three votes between three groups.

“As long as you don’t vote for the man on the green and orange posters. He looks strict. I think he won’t hesitate to ban sneakers and Crocks. I think he might even bite squirrels,” she said.

“I won’t be surprised if he bans Crocks, but why on earth would he bite squirrels?” I asked.

She didn’t answer and started discussing the other candidates. “The one with the red hat… No. And that one: he tries to put on a friendly smile, but I think he’ll be just as strict.”

Eventually only two candidates got her approval: ActionSA’s Herman Mashaba and Democratic Alliance’s John Steenhuisen.

But she preferred one person as the president of this country – her father.

“You should stand for president,” she said, “We can make great new laws. We can have school starting later and coming out earlier. And we can introduce a third break…”

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Potential power potentially corrupts… I wish politics was as simple as is for a seven year old.

But to me, it isn’t. I have been battling to decide on my preferred party for months now and I think a lot of other South Africans are in the same position.

Some will withhold their votes, and I respect that choice – a withheld vote is a tool used in a mature democracy. I believe most of us will make our mind up before 29 May.

Some will vote for big parties, some will vote for small parties or independents. But I hope all of us will make our selections seriously, that we will choose in our country’s interest.

That we see election day as a day to rebuild our country and that the party part of elections has nothing to do with eating and drinking.

And that biting squirrels has nothing to do with our choices.