Young guns to take on old guard
To mark 40 years since the June 16 uprising, City Press asked South Africa’s top three political parties what they had done to accommodate the youth in their candidates’ lists ahead of the August 3 local government elections. The ANC claimed to have successfully implemented its stipulated 20% share of young people on its list. The DA said it was the most diverse party across race and age groups, and federal leader Mmusi Maimane was a ‘youth’ himself. The EFF also praised ‘young’ leader Julius Malema and claimed to be the party of young people. City Press tracked down youth candidates from each of the three parties to find out what plans they had in store to bring about change in their wards. All three maintained that being young would be an advantage for them at the polls, claiming they were not intimidated by their lack of experience or facing off older counterparts, writes S’thembile Cele. Here is what they said: “We have seen the change that the DA has brought about. Some of us lived through ANC rule in the Western Cape – it nearly crippled the city and the DA has changed that,” said Gillion Bosman (28).
He is a PR councillor candidate for the DA. Should he be successful, he will be tending to wards 13 and 71 on the Cape Flats, southeast of Cape Town’s central business district.
He said his approach to the major issues of unemployment, substance abuse and lack of housing in these areas would be to encourage community participation.
“The key is community participation. I want to find a solution for that area with the community, as opposed to doing it for them. There is an opportunity through local government to work at basic levels to help people improve their own lives.”
He said his areas of expertise involved dealing with youth development and education. Although he now lives in Wynberg, he said growing up on the Flats has enabled him to “understand the challenges” facing the residents.
“Being young makes a difference. We have an important role to play through youth activism,” he said.
“We need to get involved in decision making and creating an environment at local government level where we have a chance to share ideas. It is also about how we start representing a constituency that is losing faith in politics.”
Bosman is calling for massive civic engagement and for young people who are already doing community work to be involved in political change. Ahmed Jada, who is just 19 years old, mentioned his enthusiasm and positive outlook on life as traits that would serve him well in his bid to become a councillor in Edenvale’s ward 18 in the Ekurhuleni metro, Gauteng.
The second-year political science student said his community was plagued by rampant substance abuse that was affecting even young children.
“I am aware of a few rehabilitation centres in the area, but I do not think there are enough of them – more must be established,” he urged.
“The main cause of the drug abuse is the sociopolitical crisis we face in this area.”
In addition to the substance abuse, Jada said there was also vast inequality, with extremes of the very rich and very poor.
“I would be useless as an EFF member if I did not implement the party’s policies. There is land that is unused in Edenvale. I do not know why it is not being used.
“Meanwhile, people do not have homes, never mind land of their own,” he said.
Although he may not have government experience, he said he had been a leader at school and that, with the right amount of vibrancy, he could go the distance.
“Unlike older people, I am not negative. I just want to meet people and help them,” said the Wits University student. Nonceba Mahlauli (26) began her campaign to be a councillor of Ward 59 in Cape Town months ago, and even changed her Twitter handle to “Councillor Nonceba”.
Living in the city’s southern suburbs, where there were many young people studying or working, she found there was “a serious lack of social integration and cohesion”. “Southern suburbs are segregated,” she said. “A high rate of race-related incidents that have taken place in this area have caught the public’s attention.
“Even if you go down the road to Newlands to watch the rugby, people are still very segregated.”
Mahlauli, a part-time master’s student in social policy and African languages, cited housing as a major challenge for young working people in the area.
“The rental rates here are ridiculously high. They exclude young people in particular,” she explained.
Other problems in the area included crime, she said, but her main focus as a councillor would be on starting conversations about racism, inequality and segregation before tackling these scourges head-on.
Given that the ward was currently under DA rule, as was the province, what did she think were her chances at scoring a win for the ANC in the local election? “We have put in a lot of work campaigning,” she replied. “But the important thing now is to get people to go to the voting stations on August 3 and to get them to vote for us,” said Mahlauli, who is also a researcher in the provincial legislature.
REDS UNITED EFF supporters attend a June 16 Youth Day party rally at Embalenhle township in Secunda, Mpumalanga
EFF candidate Ahmed Jada ECONOMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS
DA candidate Gillion Bosman DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE
ANC candidate Nonceba Mahlauli AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS