Thoughts about politics

Q: How do you decide who to vote for?

A: Step 1 for me is to look what each party stands for, by reading their websites mostly. Step 2 is to ask to what extent the party’s actions match their positions. Step 3 is to consider the impact of your vote and the difference it will make to the party you give it to.

A small party will appreciate your vote more but might not be able to do anything with it. A big party will not care about a single vote, but a lot of single votes will give it power to change things.

Step 2 is the most important step though, because all politicians lie, and some lie a lot.

In my case, the party I most agree with on position is the ANC, but the ANC doesn’t really believe in it’s own positions. Most politicians in the party use the party positions to gain power and make themselves rich. I want to vote for the ANC, but I can’t as long as they have systemic corruption running top to bottom and nobody in the party willing to stand up and oppose it all out. So every election I vote for a party that’s slightly less agreeable but also slightly less corrupt and better at pretending to care about the people that vote for them.

Q: Are you a racist?

A: I think I’m a rehabilitated racist. Perhaps I’m a recovering racist, and will always have to be on guard to not slip back into the habits that were taught to me by a racist society as I grew up in apartheid.

I can state categorically that I now know that skin colour has no effect on anything that matters and that it is wrong to make judgements or assumptions about anybody based on skin colour. It should never be done for any reason.

Q: What about black economic empowerment?

A: I’m actually of the opinion that it is a good idea in the short term if implemented well. The imbalances created under apartheid will take centuries to come right on their own, and the key steps needed to fix it in the long run aren’t happening.

In theory black economic empowerment shouldn’t be necessary. If equal access to education and societal resources were truly implemented, as they should have been from 1994 onwards, then the problem of an imbalanced society would already be mostly solved. Sadly, we have a country where people have very different prospects based on where they are born, which is not right. People with the same potential may have very different histories, and people with worse backgrounds might have greater potential.

Further, forced mixing exposed people to groups they fear and alleviate those fears when they see the ‘other’ people are just like them inside. It automatically creates a more harmonious society. Even though it’s technically discrimination based on race, the positives are clear.

Sean van der Merwe
Coordinator of UFS Statistical Consultation Unit