LONDON. South African expatriates living in Britain and the US say that they are unlikely to vote in April 22’s general election as they are too busy queuing at soup kitchens and catching rats to bulk up their gruel. However some expats have demanded the right to vote, hoping to stuff their shoes with ballot papers and gather up enough pencils to burn for warmth.
The issue of whether or not expatriates should be allowed to vote in the forthcoming election has been a political hot potato in South Africa, with the ANC opposing the move as it fears a strong expatriate turnout on April 22 could see its majority slip from 76 percent to 75.9 percent.
However the Democratic Alliance and the Freedom Front Plus remain adamant that expatriates should be allowed to vote abroad, and are hoping for a major boost from this demographic.
4.4 million of South Africa’s 4.5 million whites currently live in four flats in Shepherd’s Bush in London, and both opposition parties are hoping to rouse at least a few dozen out of their traditional apathy come April 22.
But for expatriates, trapped in a crushing cycle of debt, joblessness and stale Jaffa Cakes, voting is not as easy as it sounds.
Worsie van Tonder, a 26-year-old electrical engineer currently working as a coffee-bean titillator at Costa, says he is unlikely to vote even if allowed to.
“If you’re out of the shop for more than twelve minutes a month they fire you,” he explained. “I just don’t know when I’d get the chance. And these beans need titillating.”
Elsa-Chante Smit, 23, is a classically trained pet therapist but is currently paying her heating bills by working as an exotic dancer at Little Caesar’s Skin Bar in Glasgow. She echoes Van Tonder’s sentiments, although she says she’s lucky just to have a job.
“A lot of South Africans in the UK, you see them roaming around in the streets like zombies. Slack jaws, moaning as they walk, Springbok jerseys all dirty and ragged, Springbok beanies all unraveling, Springbok scarves dragging in the slush behind them.
“The local kids throw them with rocks. Dogs rip off their jean-pants. It’s horrible.”
Brad Brad-Bradley, who decided to take a gap year in London with his friend and wrestling partner Chad Chadley-Chadford after they graduated from Michaelhouse with distinctions in suppressed masculine rage, said he would not be voting on April 22 as he would be at the South African embassy applying for economic refugee status.
“Bru, we’re so stoked about going home and that, but we sold our Bok puffer jackets and Bok jerseys so we’d totally freeze to death before we made it to Heathrow,” he explained.
He said getting on a South African Airways flight was easy as one only needed to offer the cabin crew some hard drugs.
“The problem is that me and Chad ate our drugs last night, with the last of the rat.
“It was so cold, and our teeth are starting to get loose in our gums, and he had this brick of skunk, so we fried it in diesel oil and shredded the last of the rat-leg into it.
“It tasted lank kak but what can you do in these times?”