If you are seeking to catch the attention of a big party with the intention of securing an investiture, speak now or forever hold your peace. The tacit rules are simple. Between now and Nomination Day, you have time to learn them. First, run to your laptop and post something you did in a particular constituency. Don’t worry about the country – it’ll take care of itself. We are talking votes so it is important to show what you did for constituents, not citizens. Get the difference clear.
Enumerate these ‘magnanimous’ acts and blow them out of proportion. No one will check what you did as everyone knows your intentions but don’t worry, no one cares. As long as you give those poor voters the impression that you have been generous towards them, that’ll do. Never mind if your generosity was paid for by other people’s hard-earned money. Again, these things are irrelevant.
Your chances of achieving your aim are that much higher if you are running a Non-Government Organisation (NGO). First, it is easy in such situations to be generous with CSR money or – even better – with foreign funds. Again, relax! You won’t be asked for any audited accounts or, even less, any accountability. The thing is that most of those who gave you money are not exactly interested in poverty eradication, equal opportunities or fighting the scourges of our society. Many will never find out what you did with the money. A few are happy with the photo opportunity.
So, if you or your parents have an NGO, what a bonanza! The full weight of the family empire (sorry, NGO) you have inherited – while fighting for equal opportunities, meritocracy and accountability – will carry you through.
If you are a woman, your chances are greater: political parties are desperately trying to look modern by fielding a couple of attention-seeking opportunistic women – who use ‘social work’ to reach their own goals – so that those who are genuinely interested in equality shut up and get on with what they have to do. Scream on all rooftops rhetoric about the puny representation of women in the national assembly. Toss in something about the Millennium Development goals, the SADC requirements. Season it all with a comparison with Rwanda, for example, where they have more than 50% of women in parliament. Yes, everybody knows that many are there to fer zoli but what the heck. Figures are figures.
Be ‘altruistic’ and make the fight about other women who could make such a difference to the situation of women – you know, the way Margaret Thatcher did in the UK by chastising working women for leaving their children in crèches and after-school care facilities instead of staying at home and looking after them. Once you have convinced everyone of your ‘genuine’ intentions, have your CV handy. If it is short, lengthen it with extraordinary things you did, preferably abroad, and which changed the world, like working on Barack Obama’s campaign or something equally insignificant and which no one can check.
Go back to your Facebook page – or NGO website – and thank everyone for helping you make such a difference to society. The emphasis – you will have understood – is on you and the difference you have made. But make it subtle, please, by sharing the credit of such a huge task with others. Remember that by doing this, you are both showing that you are a leader, a team player and the task will seem that much more important as it required a whole team to achieve it. Thank your team profusely. If you are lucky, it’ll be the last time you’ll ever have to thank them – or indeed thank anybody else.