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On arrival at the registration station – situated in open veld – at 7am I was expecting… something different.
I was not on the look out for a brass band or a welcoming drink, but I was also not quite prepared for what awaited me.
A rust bucket that may, or may not, have been a bakkie four decades ago was parked in the veld.
What was once a white tarpaulin the size of a carport was lying in the dust. Two men using their backs as windshields explained they didn’t have the right poles for the tent.
The good news, however, was that they were on its way. Fast forward three hours and the tent was finally “pitched”. Note the inverted commas. I would not be surprised if passers-by thought it was the first structure of a new informal settlement.
By 10.30am the two Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) staff members were set up, seated, and could now – in their official office and tone – tell the waiting crowd their computer system was temporarily offline. Eish.
The “system” was either incapable of handling all the online traffic, or someone at “head office” had plugged it into the same power line used for traffic lights.
It was stop-start all weekend. But as we know, a Boer makes a plan, and so does the IEC.
The staff wrote down voters’ details, promising to capture them later. It didn’t do much to boost my faith in the system.
On the flipside, however, the positives far outweigh the negatives. On Saturday morning, representatives from the various political parties greeted each other with glares as cold as the wind.
But as the day progressed, conversations were struck up, water was shared and attitudes thawed.
By Sunday, smoke breaks were taken together and jokes, even with political themes, were shared.
At 5pm we parted with hugs and handshakes and an honest excitement about meeting again on election day.
A surprising camaraderie was forged over the two days.
Looks like our democracy is really maturing.
LOCAL ELECTIONS 2021