Campaigning for the youth vote

With municipal elections taking place next week, the top three contenders are vying for the youth vote. Earlier this year, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has expressed concern about apathy among young voters who make up 66% of the population according to Stats SA. (more…)

Q&A with Tony Leon

Tony Leon, former leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA). Photo: Provided

Tony Leon, former leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA).   Photo: Provided

 

Tony Leon is the former leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA). He was also South Africa’s ambassador to Argentina between 2009 and 2012. He studied Law at Wits and was elected onto the the Wits SRC during the 1980s.

How do you think the DA has fared since your departure?
Electorally, the DA has done well and improved its position in each national election and gained some share of the elusive Black vote. But it failed in its declared objectives of either getting 30% of the national vote in May 2014 or winning the province of Gauteng. Existentially, it faces the prospect of being overshadowed by the bare-knuckled tactics of the EFF as an opposition and then in defining itself as a distinct entity from the ANC.

What are your thoughts on the new opposition politics?
I would add that the real dilemma for opposition politics is that, notwithstanding significant public disenchantment with the ruling party, there is still a 40 point spread between ANC and DA and the ANC governs in eight of nine provinces, but this could shift as conditions deteriorate.

Do white males have a future in South African politics and why?
There are still many white males in the DA (and certainly in the small FF Plus) and even one or three or so in the ANC. But I think there has been a withdrawal of whites from the body politic, which is a pity since, under the constitution, there should be room for all races to participate and prosper in politics.

What are your thoughts on the current conflict in the Middle-East?
I think it is a war without end, sadly. Many states do not recognise Israel’s right to exist, which is the existential issue at the heart of the conflicts and Israel certainly has made the conditions for a properly constituted Palestinian state almost objectively impossible to achieve. Now we have the rise of extremist Islam in the form of IS and the Sunni-Shia divide playing itself out across the borders of states which, in the case of Iraq and Syria, do not really exist as functioning entities. Democracy arrived briefly via the Arab Spring and, with perhaps the exception of Tunisia, never took root anywhere. It is a profoundly depressing picture.

What inspired you to write your new book Opposite Mandela?
I was encouraged by my publisher, Jonathan Ball, to write the account which appears in Opposite Mandela on the basis that, with all the accounts of Mandela and his hugely impactful leadership, no one, until this book, had written from first-hand observation an eye-witness memoir of what it was like to be in opposition to Mandela and still have a good, often warm, relationship with him and his presidency. Hopefully my book sheds some new light on this extraordinary man and the time when he led our nation.

ANC comfortably on top according to votes from stations at Wits

By Ilanit Chernick and Tracey Ruff

According to the latest national poll results from the two voting stations at Wits University, the ANC is sitting comfortably at the top with a 58.0% lead from the Old Mutual Sports Hall station and a 49.47% lead from the Education Campus station.

The provincial vote sees no change in the ranking order, with the ANC obtaining 50.36% from the Old Mutual Sports Hall station (DA at 28.17%) and a lower 42.97% from the Education Campus station with the DA following closely behind at 37.93%.

Nationally and provincially, the EFF has come in third each time, obtaining roughly 11% of the vote from the Wits voting stations. The party’s highest voting percentage of 11.1% came from Old Mutual Sports Hall, which is for the provincial elections.

Jarrod Delport, supporter of the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO), says he’s “overjoyed and elated” with the mark the DA has made both provincially and nationally.

“[The results] show that many South Africans, one in four to be precise, are rejecting corruption and choosing the policies of the DA. The party is the only party that has consistently grown since 1994 and will continue to do so.”

National results from the University of Johannesburg’s Auckland Park Campus in Westdene put the ANC firmly on top with 63.84% of the vote. With 483 valid votes, the DA comes in second with 18.02% and the EFF is third with 9.01%. Agang and Cope have made no impact.

Students have taken to Twitter to express their feelings about the results. Wits student Mothusi Mothopeng tweeted the following: “Just realized that by the time the national election comes along I will be a Wits graduate #ThankYouANC”.

Results from feeder areas around Wits University show a slightly different order of things. Voters at Holy Family College in Parktown put the DA on top nationally with 50.9%. ANC came in second with 31.58% and the EFF third with 7.21%.

National results from the Braamfontein Metropolitan Centre show the ANC leading by a large gap with 62.24%. The EFF is in second position with 16.09%.

A Wits student tweeting from the account of @Tebza808 said that the results from Rosebank Primary School where the DA is leading with 69.21% “seem legit”.

Referring to the ANC’s lead from votes at the Wits Education Campus, Witsie Tebogo Thothela tweeted: “We thank all students at education campus, we came out and voted ANC”.

Zareef Minty, Wits student and member of the Patrotic Alliance (PA), spoke about the top three parties. He believes the ANC has campaigned really well and says “it’s great to see the ANC taking initiative”.

Minty added that the DA has seen an upliftment in its campaign and believes DA’s Mmusi Maimane has done a “great job”.

Commenting on the EFF, Minty says the EFF is definitely a “dark horse” and has done well considering the party only was formed a mere 8 months ago.

Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) president Shafee Verachia says he is “more happy that students voted,” but he declined to comment on the elections results.

Final confirmation of results is expected on Saturday, May 10.

Q & A with Mbali Ntuli

At the age of 26 Mbali Ntuli has made significant strides in the political arena as youth leader for the Democratic Alliance (DA). But being a leader has not stopped her from being critical of her own party….

Why doesn’t the DA Student Organisation at Wits have a presence?
We are only four years old as a youth wing so for the first two years we weren’t really able to contest in SRC elections because resources were focused on starting up the branches. We got a lot of young people in first and second year to head them up but then they enter honours year and they are under pressure and they let the ball fall so it’s all about leadership.

How successful has the DA been in using middle class black people to appeal to masses?
Two things, the first, neither Lindiwe [Mazibuko] or Mmusi [Maimane] or I actually are upper class in terms of our background, my mom was a teacher and my dad was a taxi driver. We are just in an age where black parents worked damn hard to get their children into middle class schools. I mean I work in Umlazi everyday giving them water, et cetera and they don’t give a fuck what I sound like when I speak English as long as I’m able to help them.

What are your thoughts on comments that the EFF could become the main opposition?
I’m surprised about how well the EFF has done but I don’t think they’ve done well enough to take over as the official opposition.

What do you make of the DA’s campaign?
Well I think the fact that we have grown in every election means that we are obviously doing something right. To be honest I think that this campaign has been different, 2011 was good, it was a positive campaign and people related well to our previous campaigns. It’s weird but this year my party’s been pretty negative in this campaign and I don’t think its sat well with some of us because we wanted to focus more on ourselves than the ANC and this [negative] strategy doesn’t work.

How much of a platform are young people given to contribute to the running of the party?
I sit on decision-making bodies that are the highest, like the federal council, but to be honest you need to have a lot of political capital to get stuff that you want pushed and I should technically be second after Helen [Zille] but that’s not how politics works. So it’s a balancing act and I think I don’t have as much power as I should as youth leader. So like the concert [at the DA election rally] we had on Saturday, I said to them ‘we need to not fucking bore people, it’s a fucking concert’ and 35% of the songs were slow jams, like who the fuck wants to go and listen to that?

How seriously are you taken as a young leader?
Most people, activists and members take me very seriously and that’s what matters more but I don’t think that some of our senior leaders take the youth as seriously as they should.
There’s a number of reasons, ageism being one. But I take great comfort in the fact that I’m probably going to outlive all of them so it doesn’t worry me so much now. But I’m also not the type of person who’s overly ambitious and trying to prove myself. I’m very happy to take my time and learn and grow.

ELECTIONS: Nkandla resident casts his vote for the party that brought water and gas to his family

NKANDLA VOTES: Voter and Nkandla resident James Dlalala voted ANC at Jan Hoffmayer community Centre. Photo: Luke Matthews

NKANDLA VOTES: Nkandla resident James Dlalala voted ANC at  the Jan Hofmeyer community centre today. Photo: Luke Matthews

James Dlalala is from the town of Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal and today he cast his vote in Johannesburg as part of the national general elections.

Voting almost 500 kilometres away from the town that is the talk of the election period this year, Dlalala admits he was not persuaded to vote for any other party but the African National Congress (ANC) despite the negative publicity around Nkandla.

“We didn’t have gas and water before the ANC,” said  healthcare worker Dlalala.

Despite the controversy surrounding the security upgrades to President Zuma’s homestead in Nkandla, Dlalala is adamant that the ANC  “has helped South Africans more than it has damaged them,” citing the building of hospitals in rural KwaZulu-Natal as one of the developments that has been introduced to the area.

Dlalala, who is from the section of iPholela in Nkandla, insists the report released last month by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is not an accurate representation of President Jacob Zuma. “I don’t trust that this is the truth … Nkandla is a beautiful place”.

After casting his vote at  the Jan Hofmeyer community centre in Vrededorp, Dlalala was not shy to say: “I don’t breathe in the DA – it is difficult to speak on the DA.”

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ELECTIONS: Being ‘special’ is not a privilege

 

 

SPECIAL ENOUGH: Jermaine and his guide dog Ygor are 'able' to participate in these elections.

SPECIAL ENOUGH: Jermaine George and his guide dog Ygor are ‘able’ to participate in the elections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A ‘special’ vote is not a privilege to a disgruntled blind student.

Jermaine George, BMus student, said he chose not to use the special vote provision for disabled people because he prefers to fit in with society instead of being kept apart.

George said his main grievance with the special vote provision is that “your vote is not completely confidential, you have to share it with whoever is helping you.”

George said that while the ANC succeeded in giving disabled people some form of independence, he added they also alienated and separated disabled people from society because there was not enough education to deal with disabled people.

“It’s easier to ignore disabled people than to interact with them,” he said. “They want to get us out of the way so that they can get to the rest of the people.”

George said that he understands the special provision when given to the elderly because of their lack of mobility.  However the blind, the deaf and those in wheelchairs are not slowed in mobility or intellect.

Dr Anlia Pretorius, head of the Disability Unit at Wits University, said: “our students are very independent and geared up and can do this on their own”.

She said some political parties have reached out to the disabled, with the Democratic Alliance publishing their election manifesto in braille and sending it for distribution to the disability unit.

While George is not sure about who he is voting for and his decision will be based on infrastructure, education and the economy.

“With those three things, the rest will sort itself out,” George said.

George can often be seen on campus with his guide dog Ygor. He is regularly found producing music or song-writing at the disability unit’s computer centre.

“I just wanna compete on par with everyone,” he said.