South African Election Guide: Election Notebook

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The Independent Online
TOKYO SEXWALE (what a name, what a guy) was picked by the mainly white listeners of Radio 702 as the sexiest man in South Afican politics. He is also the ANC politician most sought after by Japanese television crews (they cannot resist the name even though it has nothing to do with Japan). Mr Sexwale, 41, former Russian-trained guerrilla, former Robben Island prisoner, is one of the rising stars of the ANC. After the election, he will almost certainly become the premier of the PWV province (essentially Greater Johannesburg).

Mr Sexwale once escaped from police by throwing a grenade through the front window of a vehicle in which he was being transported. He remains adept at slipping out of awkward situations. After a press conference in Johannesburg yesterday, he was interviewed by a reporter from Irish radio. Would he as, a former freedom fighter, recommend the IRA to lay down their arms and negotiate with the British? 'I cannot pontificate for the people of Ireland,'he said. 'The people of Ireland must look at the mechanics of the political position in their own country.'.

UGLY rumours and urban myths breed like mosquitoes. An obscure ANC official suggested, in jest, that a swimming-pool tax would be the best way to redistribute wealth in the new South Africa.

Many whites now assume this is official ANC policy. Another persistent tale has a black couple knocking on the door of a posh house in the white suburbs and announcing that they plan to move in 'after the election'.

A newspaper cartoon strip 'Madam and Eve' (about the relationship between black maid and white madam) developed this story. 'What do you think of the decor?' asks one black house- hunter to another, as Madam looks on aghast. 'A little too kitsch if you ask me . . . Oh no] They've only got two bathrooms]' In the last frame, Madam has collapsed into a comfy chair. 'At least they liked the chandelier,' says Eve, bringing a soothing cup of tea. 'One more word,' says Madam, 'and you're fired.'

GOOD news for those South African whites who believe the election is a Communist conspiracy. The Workers' International to Build the Fourth International held a campaign rally in Mitchell's Plain, near Cape Town, this week. Apart from the media, only two people showed up. Both were members of the Workers' International etc, etc, executive committee. One made a speech to the other, blaming the poor attendance on the 'collapse of socialism in Europe'.

AT an ANC and Communist Party (SACP) rock concert, at which the refreshments were supplied by an American soft-drinks company, the announcer led a litany of cheers. 'Viva ANC, viva]' he shouted. 'Viva SACP, viva] Viva slain SACP leader comrade Chris Hani, viva] Viva comrade President Nelson Mandela, viva]' After several dozen more vivas, he added as a happy afterthought: 'Viva Coca-Cola, viva]'

PROFOUND political analysis is not dead in South Africa. The right-wing Citizen summed up the election yesterday: 'The future will depend on the percentage of votes each party receives.'