There's been quite a bit of fuss about registering all
wannabe parties for the election. It seemed as though the authorities were
discriminating against tiny groups who wanted to get on all ballot papers just
for the fun of it.
Outrageously, they were demanding large deposits to show you
were serious, and that you had more supporters than just your Mom and your cat.
Obviously a naked political plot to prevent people in one of the long and slow
queues at their local Clicks from forming an Instant Party and seeking votes to
make shorter queues compulsory, as well as frustrating the honourable political
ambitions of the Form 5-D class at the Hoërskool Riaan Cruywagen /Cruywagen
Of course this did, on the other hand, prevent ballot papers
from running to several thick volumes. However, my main concern is that all the
parties I saw mentioned seemed so relentlessly dull. I have no doubt that the
Socialist Aardvarks for Green Economy are rather nice folks, though it's clear
they'll never govern even their own backyard, and that it'd be no fun at all
voting for them.
The issue of not
Yet the more possible it is that a party could actually form
a government, the more likely it is that they wouldn't give a darn about what
most of us might want or care about. Not voting at all actually strengthens the
major parties, as Mr Kasrils and others have pointed out. Folks aren't too sure
what would officially count as "spoiling" your ballot, and you don't
want to look as though you were just too stupid to vote correctly.
I have long been looking for support to enable me to set up
an official political party called " None of the Above". This would
enable anyone to formally and unambiguously register that they don't care for any
of the other parties, and surely we'd gather a large number of votes, and
reflect the true sentiments of a majority of voters. Yet probably without the
inconvenience of actually having to form a government.
Yet this wouldn't be as much fun as those who have in the
past formed really daffy parties. I thought of the Yeti Independence Party, but
thought - maybe not yeti, though surely their time will come.
The Monster Raving
In Britain for many years, until he came to a really sad end,
there was Screaming Lord Such, who ran the Monster Raving Loony Party and stood
for election in a great many elections over the years, giving innocent pleasure
to millions. I think he usually tried to run against whoever was the current
Prime Minister, and part of the joy was hearing the plummy voice of an official
announcing " Labour Party, 17,493 votes ;
Monster Raving Loony Parry, 27 votes. "
I understand that there's now a new British alternative
candidate, Kevin Philip Bong, of the Slightly Silly Party. He could get my vote.
If I can get NOTA ( None of the Above) up and running, it
won't be my first successful venture into satirical politics. Years ago when I
was studying in Europe, I grew weary of the many small, noisy and boring political
groups and societies that cluttered the notice-boards. Their lofty political
theories seemed far more important to them than the actual problems of actual
men and women.
The Apathetic Society
Yet it was also obvious that the majority of students were
basically apathetic, often profoundly so, and cared rather a lot about not
actually caring much at all. So I founded the social equivalent of NOTA, the
Apathetic Society. And it caught on. I announced that due to the obvious
special nature of our concerns and those of our supporters, anyone who didn't
actually and formally apply for exemption, would automatically become a member.
Inaction would imply consent. Of course we provided no return address to which
people might send such applications, to save them the trouble of responding.
Significantly, we received no complaints.
We would set and announce dates and times when the society
would definitely not meet. Sometimes we'd arrange a special Theatre or Movie
evening, when absolutely none of us would go to see an identified grossly
Maybe best of all, I could write to various pompous and
self-loving politicians and celebrities, on a nice and impressive letterhead, and
politely invite them not to come and speak to us in the following month. If
they were very busy people, I'd offer them a choice of three dates on which not
to come. We gleefully received some nicely confused replies from them, though
none showing a flicker of wit.
Eventually, we heard from other Universities where Apathetic
branches had been formed, or at least announced, across North America and
Scandinavia. I was informed that I had been appointed International President
for Life because a majority of branches had concluded that nobody else would
even be even remotely interested in running for that office. I forgot to refuse
The 1967 Annual Dinner was postponed, and hasn't been held
yet. But unlike all of the other campus political groups, we maintained a large
membership, because nobody could be bothered to resign.
Maybe it’s time we charged onto the SA political arena with
something similar – but would anyone notice?
Professor MA Simpson is Health24's CyberShrink. A South African psychiatrist, he qualified in medicine and in psychiatry in Britain. He has been a senior academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries. Read more of his columns.