Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nandos, the A-Party and the election.

So the ANC Youth League has had another outburst. They have decided to take exception to a Nando's advert which, although it has been running for yonks, has suddenly come to their attention and they think it makes their sweet leader Julius look ... erm ... stupid. They weren't bothered when he called Naledi Pandour with her plummy accent a spoilt minister with a fake American accent, or when he declared that the league would kill for Zuma. But a tongue-in-cheek Nando's ad apparently calls for militant mass action against the grilled chicken outlet. Strange, yet arrogant.

So anyway, apart from that, what does one write that's worth publishing in a daily newspaper on the day of a national election?

One editor had a bright idea. We would put together a big story in which each of the 26 registered political parties can have 50-or-so words to say why people should vite for them. And if we divide the parties up, this project won't be too labour intensive. Not a bad idea!

So the dishing out process goes ahead. First party I get is the ACDP. Not too bad. I've heard of them. They have a known leader. And a spokesperson. And even a landline telephone number. No problemo.

Not so lucky the second time round. I draw The A-Party. Huh? The what? I check the replica ballot paper printed in the paper. Yip - there they are. It's a smiling white guy with a beard wearing a cowboy hat. Ooookay. So this is where Google comes in handy. Thank heavens - they have a website - I recognise the guy posing on the home page even though he is hatless. A drawing of a broeder-bond-looking bearded guy with a hat above his head is my clue. I check it out and discover that there is not a single person's name listed, nor a phone number. Their stuff is in Afrikaans and English, and their appeal for donations is in US dollars. Go figure!

Ah, they have a link to events. No can do. "Our first public event will be held soon...." it states, followed by a suggestion that you fill out an online invitation asking 'Mr A' to come and address your meeting. It appears as though no one took him up on the offer. Too late, Mr A! The election is upon us.

Then I discover to my horror that the only way to contact this clandestine organisation was via e-mail. And nowhere do they have a 50-word summing up of why you should vote for them. Crisis!!! I have a deadline and no guarantee that The A-Party checks their mail.

So I call our parliamentary bureau and am told that the politics team doesn't deal with the small-fry parties and don't have their contact details - I need to contact the IEC for assistance. This is less than cheery news following my three-day effort to get IEC accreditation - "sorry the photo your paper mailed is not suitable you have to come in so we can shoot you ourselves, sorry that you came all the way we can't print your accreditation as the toner ran out, please don't come and fetch it because we have run out of lanyards rather try tomorrow".

But hope arises as ParliamentaryBureauPerson remembers an e-mail she once got from the A-Party. She locates it and forwards it to me. Fantastic! There are contact details on the bottom.

So Mr A, I discover, is one Anthony Penderis.

"Why should people vote for you?" I ask.

Mr A: "Because our motto is 'We have plans. We deliver'."

JJ: "So what do you plan to deliver?"

Mr A: "Well, we are only six months old but already we have taken the government to the Constitutional Court on the expat issue and won."

JJ: "That's fabulous, but I seem to remember that it was the Freedom Front Plus who did that. For Willem Richter?"

Mr A: "Um, ja. There were actually six parties altogether working on that one, but it was us who actually initiated the whole story. So it proves that we can deliver."
Hurrah! I had my 50 words.

Now it's time to vote. May South Africans go out in their throngs and make their mark! Happy voting everyone, may the process be smooth and pleasant.


  1. I'm voting! Seems a lot of parties are going for the "plan and deliver" thing. No specifics. Clever...

  2. I love the Nandos replacement advert after they pulled the one Julius complained about!