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Elections have come and gone!

Two days ago was March 1, 2006. Local government elections day here in South Africa.
 
The party that I stood for as a ward candidate in Tshwane (Pretoria), the ACDP, has lost dismally in these elections (more on the causes of this in a later post – WATCH THIS SPACE!), nationwide and also locally here in Tshwane. Our party president has released an election result statement that can be read here.
 
More on my own ward:
 
I got up at 05:00 in order to get ready for the day. The voting booths across the nation were supposed to open at 07:00. It did in most cases. My wife assisted me as a party agent (PA) in one of my voting districts (VD). My ward had 5 of those. Each voting district has one voting station (VS). Each voting district has an average of about 3,000 voters, even though one of my VSs only had 539 voters registered and another had 5,953 registered voters.
 
It was indeed a busy day as I had to visit each voting station several times during the day and still had to vote and have lunch! I visited most of my stations 4 times during the day. One I visited only three times and another 5 times. At the time of the visit I would chat to my party agents to find out if everything was still fine, but I would also observe the voting process to ensure that no shortcuts are taken by the elections staff from the IEC.
 
One thing that happened during the day that left a bitter taste in my mouth was that the ANC tried to intimidate the VF+ and the ACDP. At the voting station where my wife worked as a party agent for the first 6 hours, the ANC asked the VF+ to remove their gazebo and their party posters no less than 6 times! Luckily the presiding officer from the IEC there did not fall for their tricks and asked me what I thought of that. You see, the VF+ had their gazebo and posters right next to the line where the voters were going to walk by. However, each presiding officer had to demarcate an area within which no campaigning activity was to take place. Outside of that area belonged to the parties. The VF+ had their stand right next to this demarcated area. I simply told the presiding officer that the VF+ was within the elections law and that the ANC had no leg to stand on. They tried the same tactic with the ACDP at one of my other VSs. Luckily my party agent who was on duty at that moment knows his rights as a party agent since he has done this several times before. He simply told the people from the ANC to go read their election manual.
 
One of my voting stations was at the Chinese school. When the voters arrived there in the morning it was under water and full of mud every where. It just happened that my party agent there is also our branch manager and he quickly came up with the idea of getting cardboard boxes and to flatten them so that people could walk on them to the tent where they were to vote. It was quite appropriate that it looked like this at the Chinese school since we started to joke about planting rice paddies there!
 
Evening came and so did 19:00 when voting ended. After this counting started. Since I had worked very hard during the day, I had decided to go home for about an hour and a half while my PAs-for-counting observed and/or ensured that the counting went well. After a little rest I went to the nerve centre of my region at about 21:00. It didn’t take long before I received the results of my first voting station. At this point depression set in. I just could not believe the results. Some of the ACDP people that worked with me in my ward thought that this year would be the year that we might possibly take the ward. After that first result I knew that there was just no way that it would happen this year.
 
At about 02:00 our mayoral candidate and I decided to go to the IEC’s city results centre. When we arrived there nothing was going on. We immediately deciced to go to the national results centre. We stayed there until 04:30 and then we left. I got home at exactly 05:00. By now I was awake exactly 24 hours.
 
I simply cleaned up, got dressed and went to work. I arrived at work about 06:15. It was not an easy day but I did manage to get some things done. I left work around 13:45 wanting to go sleep. At last!
 
I suddenly thought that if I was not mistaken (amazing that my brain was still working here!), it was my son’s last cricket match for the season. I called my wife on my mobile and she confirmed it. Well, decision made! I was going to watch my son’s last game! Boy, did he not disappoint me! He hit a quick 17 in the three overs that he batted. After only 4 balls he already had 16 runs (2 sixes and 1 four!).
 
My wife had to leave earlier to pick up my daughter from choir practise. So, at the end of the game my son and I packed up and when we got to the car I realised that my wife had my keys! Something like this would usually rattle my cage, but not this time! I was just too tired to even be remotely upset by this! Much earlier she went to check if my car’s alarm was sounding or not. Well, we waited about 20 minutes for her to bring the keys, so my son and I played a little cricket all by ourselves!
 
We finally made it home! We had supper and I eventually got to bed at 21:00. That means that I had been awake for 40 hours! It isn’t always easy to be a politician! I had to get up at 05:00 again this morning, giving me only 7 hours sleep.
 
Well, no problem. That is life!
 
The results for the elections in my ward are as follows (top 6 party candidates):
 
DA   – 73.33%
VF+  – 10.31%
ANC  – 10.10%
ACDP –  5.16%
CDP  –  0.36%
PAC  –  0.32%
 
Look out for my next post as I look at what caused this dismal result and what I think should be done to improve it!
 
Just thinking
 

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