Column: How to order your mains this voting day

An admittedly silly aside by Verashni Pillay

It seems like a lot of people are still confused about who to vote for in South Africa’s 6th national and provincial election. And I think there’s only so much we can overthink this.

So I’m going to break it down for you using universal language. Food.

Yes. Food.

So. Imagine, when you enter the voting booth on Wednesday, that you’re actually entering a restaurant.

Someone presents you with two menus. One is for your main meal, and the other is for your drink.

So first you focus on the menu for your mains. There are 48 options on this menu because this restaurant is honestly a little confused, but that’s not your problem right now.

Now you have to make your choice. But here’s the thing about this restaurant: no matter what you choose for your main, you’re always going to get beef on at least half your plate. It’s been like this ever since you started coming to this restaurant in 1994. No matter what you order, you always get beef on at least half the plate. Sometimes even more.

But this time, there’s a better cut of beef on offer. The best part of this particular cow managed to fight its way onto the menu a year ago so you’re going to get t-bone steak this time round. This is a big change from the previous ten years it was super crappy, like, ground beef and all the gross bits you can’t actually sell on its own from the cow just mushed together and trying to pass itself off as a president – I mean – a piece of steak. So this time you have a better choice of cut from the cow but you still aren’t convinced about the cow. But the fact is, you’re getting cow.

So here’s your choice: you can either vote for more cow because the T-bone that is now in charge may be able to fix the entire cow so that going forward there won’t be any more crappy ground up beef ruining everyone’s life for the next decade and giving us all indigestion. That’s what the T-bone is promising you if you choose it and honestly, it’s a compelling argument. Even the Economist magazine thinks so, and they did a whole front page story about how you should choose T-bone steak so we can fix not just the cow, but the entire restaurant. Which will actually just be amazing because this restaurant has gotten super bad thanks to the aforementioned ground beef who ran it into the ground.  

But let’s say you’re done with the cow- whether or not they’re offering you a better cut this time around. You know you’re going to get cow, but you’re going to use your choice to get a bigger side to go with that cow to kind of tamper it and keep it in check.

Now here’s a really important point when choosing your side, if you decide to go this route. Choose a side that will make it on to your plate. If you choose some new side that the chef has just introduced or one that has been chilling on the menu for ages that never makes it on the plate… you’re just wasting your vote. Choose some straight up and down veggies or some refreshing salad or some spicy chakalaka… sides that have shown they can get shit done.

And don’t “spoil” your choice. No one cares. Literally. You may as well stay at home.

But wait! You’re not done. You STILL have to choose your drink and this is arguably the most important choice. You see, everyone wanders into the restaurant thinking about their mains and don’t plan for their choice of drink properly.

Now the main meal menu comes with suggested wine pairings, and you may be tempted to just go with that because it’s easier all-round.

So if you’re voting for the black, green and yellow steak, you may as well get the black, green and yellow wine that matches it on the drinks menu.

But you don’t have to do that! You can split your vote… I mean your choice. In fact, you really should think about what this drink is promising to do for you SEPARATELY from the meal. The meal and the drink serve VERY different functions.

Here’s another point about the drink. Unlike the main meal, there’s no guarantee on this one, particularly if you’re going to the Gauteng branch of this restaurant. You may vote for the creamy Amarula. But there aren’t enough votes for Amarula because other people are voting for peppermint liquor so instead of Amarula you get this really toxic mix of both of them together that gets called a springbok shooter and now you have to down it and you feel sick because those things really don’t go well together and… ok, I may have gotten carried away with this analogy a little. The point is, coalitions in this country are still hella messy. And also springbok shooters are gross.

So if you’re not sure if the Amarula or the peppermint liquor are going to win outright, it may be better to vote for some beer that you know is definitely going to win in the particular franchise of the restaurant you’re in.

Or two liquors that will go together better and not give you indigestion. One who have similar aims and believes.

Because those springbok shooters, man. They’re really not great.