South African Elections: Election Notebook
John Lichfield has been The Independent's man in Paris since 1997, covering French news. Before that, he was the paper's Foreign Editor and he has also worked in Brussels and Washington. In 1999, he was the UK press Awards Foreign Reporter of the year.
Friday 29 April 1994
Krugersdorp is one of the most conservative places in South Africa - at the last, whites-only election it returned as its member of parliament, the moustachioed Conservative Party luminary, Clive Derby-Lewis. Mr Derby- Lewis is not voting in this election either: he is in jail for organising the murder of Chris Hani, a former ANC leader.
Polling in Krugersdorp was proceeding efficiently and amiably yesterday, with blacks coming in from the townships and most whites ignoring the Conservative Party instruction not to vote. Since we could not find the Conservative Party offices, we asked a policeman. The polite, Afrikaner constable led us a little way out of town to the pharmacy run by Mr Viljoen, chairman of the local Conservatives.
Mr Viljoen is not worried about the future of South Africa. 'The Third World cannot destroy the First World. What can happen? Nothing. Angola, Mozambique, Zaire, Rwanda: it cannot happen here. What I predict is that South Africa will be run by a bourgeoisie, one million whites and one million blacks, and the price will be paid by all the little men, small blacks and small whites like me.'
The pharmacist-philosopher supports the idea of an independent, rural volkstaat (Boer homeland). But where would such a homeland be since 80 per cent - at least - of the countryside is black? And who, in a white state, would do all the hard labour now undertaken by black people? 'No, no, no,' said Mr Viljoen. 'We would let in the blacks. They could work in the volkstaat and have all equal rights, except they could not vote.' Now there is a novel idea. OVER the hill in the township of Kagiso, the young, black officials at the polling station are looking bored. The day before the place was besieged; now, it seems, everyone has voted. The officials are glad to receive visitors.
At the next polling station, Gideon Matsafu, the presiding officer, also has no voters. Has he had any other problems? Yes, he confides. Lunch. The Independent Electoral Commission was supposed to bring money to pay for the poll workers' lunch; but no one came.
An old, old lady queuing at a Johannesburg polling station was overheard saying to herself, over and over, 'DP. DP. DP. DP.' Eventually, an election official warned her that she was not allowed to campaign for the Democratic Party within the precincts of the polling station. Under the regulations of the Independent Electoral Commission, this counted as 'intimidation of fellow voters'. Nonsense, said the old lady. She had to keep repeating the letters or she would forget who she was voting for.
More religious problems. Members of the Afrikaans Baptist Church are refusing to vote because they do not want their hands marked with invisible ink to prevent them voting twice. Des Gould of the Lord's Theological College complains that many born-agains regard the marking, or branding, of the body as a sin. But wouldn't an invisible sin be all right? Apparently not . . .
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