With polls due to open on Wednesday, election fever is reaching a crescendo. Bare-assed lying, bribery, coercion and threats of violence are witnessed every day. And that’s just in my house.
The situation has become so volatile that I was forced to call a meeting to devise some sort of code of conduct that would allow us to survive the next few days without tearing each other apart.
It took a while to get everyone together. Kwaai Lappies suspected me of trying to trap her into washing the windows and refused to come out of the laundry. Sudan Red, the less-than-constant gardener, has hardly left the downstairs room after escaping from the friendly locals whose idea of a warm welcome for foreigners was to set them alight.
Brenda and our appalling loinfruit, Clive, were afraid that I would lock them inside and prevent them from voting, their paranoia being based on the spurious grounds that I believe there should be a box marked Me on the ballot paper which, if more than 50% of voters tick, would require the immediate scrapping of the government and a return to dignified self-rule as it was practiced by our ancestors 200 000 years ago.
“What kind of monster do you take me for?” I said, ushering everybody into the lounge before cutting the phone cord and locking the doors.
I thought it would be fitting to start the meeting with a quote from that lovable old rogue, Benjamin R Tucker: “The essence of government is control. He who attempts to control another is a governor, an aggressor, an invader; and the nature of such invasion is not changed, whether it is made by one man upon another man, after the manner of the ordinary criminal, or by one man upon all other men, after the manner of an absolute monarch, or by all other men upon one man, after the manner of a modern democracy.”
The group pondered these words of wisdom for a moment or two, then huddled together in urgent discussion. At last, I thought. An intelligent debate. What a breakthrough. But it was not to be. They were simply working out an exit strategy.
Clive made a run for the window while Kwaai Lappies and Sudan Red split up. Brenda moved quickly to intercept me and I went down like a two-bit rent boy.
“Listen to me, you blind sheeple!” I shouted, “Voting is nothing more than giving someone written consent to interfere in your life as they see fit.” If Brenda hadn’t used her elbow to stifle my right to freedom of speech, I would have gone on to point out that withholding this consent entitles you to do as you please. This might not sit well with some of our judges, particularly those who vote, but I think it is certainly worth a shot.
Steady pressure to my trachea forced me to capitulate and, through a series of rapid eye movements I picked up from a movie called The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, give the assurance that I would abandon this philosophy.
Kwaai Lappies was down on one knee comforting a borderline hysterical Sudan Red, who had misinterpreted the entire situation and thought I was trying to get him extradited to The Hague to join his president on war crimes charges.
“Relax,” I croaked, rubbing my crushed windpipe, “you’re no Omar al-Bashir.” Sudan Red seemed reassured by this and gave me a weak smile. “However,” I added, “if they ever set up an international gardening court for crimes against lawns and flower beds, you’ll crack the most wanted list, for sure.”
He looked confused, which I suppose was only to be expected. Militant irony faded in popularity in Sudan not long after British governor General Charles Gordon lost his head while defending Khartoum against the Mahdi in 1885. Nobody has really laughed much in those parts since then.
I poured everyone a stiff drink and emphasised the need for a set of rules that would govern our behaviour during the strange and terrible period leading up to May 7.
“First item on the agenda,” I said, “is the question of no-go areas. All against?” Everyone raised their hands except me. “All in favour?” I put my hand up, insisting that my study, which is really just a fancy word for ‘biohazard’, was out of bounds to all except me. Nobody tried to argue. As a concession, I was prepared to accept that the scullery, laundry and kitchen, fridge excluded, would be no-go areas for me alone.
Brenda said everyone should be free to express their political beliefs without fear of being laughed at and sprayed with beer. I pointed out that this practice had in fact encouraged healthy debate during the previous election. Brenda disagreed, saying it had only encouraged police to visit our home to investigate reports of a domestic disturbance. That was the handiwork of our neighbour, Grim Rita, who, as an ex-Rhodesian, is a domestic disturbance all on her own.
Clive wanted the right to challenge each other’s opinions without fear of physical violence. This made no sense because the word ‘challenge’ clearly implies the right to punch, kick and bite one’s opponent, whether it be on the sports field or in the political arena. The dirtiest fighter’s opinions carry the day. It has been that way ever since Darwin created Man and the Flying Spaghetti Monster created Woman.
We also agreed to accept the outcome of the election. Mentally, I added the rider, “unless you don’t, in which case you are entitled to wage a campaign of urban terror until the government agrees to your demands”.
After wrapping up the meeting with another round of drinks, Kwaai Lappies fell over the cat, laughed like a tokoloshe and said that from now on, toilet paper would be referred to as the voters’ roll. Polygamy is going to be huge this year. I might just take her as my second wife.