Young guns to take on old guard

CityPress - - News -

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.

PHOTO: TEBOGO LETSIE

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

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