There was a sense of excitement as the voters quietly made their mark in Cape Town’s suburbs, writes Kieran Legg.
Cape Town - Unfazed and unfettered – this was the motto of Little Mowbray’s not-so-little voters. In the sun-washed parking lot, they queued with casual indifference, checking their phones and silently ambling along as if the squiggly line was the world’s slowest snake.
“Ag, it’s only 15 minutes tops,” said one voter, folding his arms.
“This is nothing, I was on Robben Island for 10 years,” said another.
Wednesday was like the finale of a new Game of Thrones season, Jacob Zuma cast in the role of a slightly more rotund King Joffrey and Helen Zille slotting in as the Queen of a misguided Western invasion of the North.
This was the big battle, the ocean was set to burn with blue and yellow flames.
But for the most part, the high stakes that politicians have been mumbling about for the past year would have been better off on a braai.
There was, without a doubt, a sense of excitement. Even in the tranquil grounds of Rhodes High School, where Mowbray’s voters quietly made their mark, there was a celebratory buzz in the air.
One couple, buoyed by their time in the ballot box, tried to snag me into joining the ranks of their church’s congregation. They were so friendly it almost worked.
Another smiling voter almost offered me cake before seeing it would probably ruin my beard.
There was a sense of responsibility, this sense that this little piece of paper could change things.
The fact that the queueing banker (oh how quickly the tables turn) was there instead of outside, enjoying moderately expensive Scotch on the stoep of his moderately expensive home, was proof that people not only felt they needed to be there, but wanted to be there too.
But this was not the finale. It was evident at polling stations across the country that this day was just one small part of a bigger picture.
The quiet of Mowbray – where the closest thing to a ANC or DA promotional table was a trio of cats debating over a dead mouse – seemed to wash over most of the southern suburbs.
In Observatory, dogs joined their owners at the polls begging the question of whether chihuahuas voted for economic reform or ruff-ly along lines of: “Who’s a good boy?”
Meanwhile in Tamboerskloof it seemed IEC officials had taken an inopportune moment to shoot a sequel to stripper-flick Magic Mike, making voters clad in their party’s colours remove their shirts.
A frustrated voter violently ripped off his shirt in protest. You could almost hear the sexy music.
In Rondebosch, Helen Zille caused a stir when she arrived to cast her vote. She refused to jump the queue when offered the fast-track option by IEC staff.
She did, however, go on to make a big show of voting for herself.
On the other hand, ANC Western Cape premier candidate Marius Fransman jumped at the opportunity to skip the queue as if a joyride on Ratanga Junction’s swirling roller-coaster The Cobra was waiting for him at the other end.
Where there weren’t slow-moving, but peaceful, snaking queues, there were technical glitches. Most could be fixed with, “Have you tried turning it on and then off again?” Others weren’t so easy because bar code scanners and ballot papers were still in limbo.
“They are arriving soon,” said nervous IEC officials as if the integral equipment had magically turned into a pepperoni pizza overnight.
From the bird’s-eye view of Twitter, every bungle was scrutinised and every vote was celebrated.
It became a place where people shared their joy of voting, but – because this is the internet, after all – it was also a gauntlet as egos clashed.
Much of it read like the aftermath of a big football game.
“You wot mate? Still supporting the yellows? You’ve got lip badmouthing Zille #blues4life.”
“Reds will top the log. Malema always scores, he never hits the woodwork.”
And then, for most of the day, the social media platform became ratemythumb.com.
Thousands upon thousands of thumbs were on display. Thumbs wearing fedoras, thumbs in plums, thumbs just tanning out in the garden.
How does a thumb even drink a cocktail?
I’m pretty sure some people were just uploading pictures of tattooed naked mole rats.
Either way, it seems like the elections have been given the thumbs up.
* Kieran Legg is a staff reporter at the Cape Argus.