During the 1994 elections, I was Party Agent for Switzerland, and election monitor in Zurich. When I arrived at the Consulate, I was expected and shown around. There were a lot of Yes Mr Naidoo and No Mr Naidoos. The set-up wasn’t as per approved in South Africa but we had to make do.
We expected 400 voters but more arrived. We had 400 extra ballot forms sent from Geneva. Those too weren’t enough. We had to photocopy extra, and sign the back of every copy.
There was a buzz, excitement and anticipation. A long queue! South African food was prepared by Consular staff, and shared with us election monitors. I was the only party agent there. The others were monitors from the UN and UNV.
I will never forget the one lady and her daughter who loudly declared that they wanted to vote IFP. Now the IFP wasn’t on the ballot forms we received, because they had temporarily withdrawn. We advised that they could write IFP on the bottom left of the ballot and mark their X on the right. Then there was the lady and her son. She wore a navy skirt, white blouse and an orange scarf. The son wore navy shorts and a white t-shirt emblazoned with the Apartheid flag!
Barbara Barnard arrived the day earlier, en route to Portugal and wanted a special special vote. Eheh! She was told in no uncertain terms that if she wanted to exercise her democratic right, she had to come back the next day. Alas, the trip to Portugal was more important.
The DHL guy was a former South African living in Switzerland, and said it was his scariest delivery.
For fear of who-knows-what, the ballots were driven from Zurich to Basel, and then flown to Johannesburg via London.
As we left that evening, which was before South Africa voted, the two young ladies from the UNV hugged me and said congratulations .
When I got back home to Basel, I called my family in London.
My Irish Aunt Cathy, was excited to have accompanied my Marmer Radh to South Africa House to vote. I didn’t ask but she told me that my uncle voted for the ‘Man with his fist in the air.’
This year, I will again vote like my Marmer Radh did 25 years ago. – Sershan Naidoo
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