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Student leaders among the fresh faces looking for your vote to shake up Parliament

Student leaders among the fresh faces looking for your vote  to shake up Parliament
From left: Ian Cameron is seventh on the DA’s Western Cape ­list. (Photo: Jaco Marais / Gallo Images / Die Burger) | Fasiha Hassan, a former #FeesMustFall leader, is 65th on the ANC’s national list. (Photo: OJ Koloti / Gallo Images) | DA Student Organisation leader Liam Jacobs is 60th on the party’s national list. (Photo: Fani Mahuntsi / Gallo Images)

After 29 May there will be some new faces in parliamentary corridors. One thing is certain: They all have big plans to get communities involved in parliamentary processes and will bring in new energy.

As political parties prepare for the Electoral Commission of South Africa’s 10 April date for the final lists of those who will contest national and provincial elections, they have announced a mix of established names and newcomers to contest for seats in Parliament.

One of these names is anti-crime lobbyist and former director of community safety at civil rights organisation Action Society, Ian Cameron, who is the DA’s seventh name on the Western Cape regional list.

When Daily Maverick asked why he put his name forward as a parliamentary representative, he said: “Well, firstly, we need to do more.

“South Africa is a bloodbath with a corruption-ridden, incompetent police  management… Someone must speak on their behalf and hold the necessary authorities accountable at the highest level. I want to be one of those someones.”

Cameron said thousands of men and women still wear their uniforms with pride despite the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) “rotten leadership” – and it is they who gave him reason to do more.

Asked who he would represent in Parliament, Cameron said: “In my heart my constituency is the team of great cops still hanging in there in the SAPS despite their broken leadership.”

Student leaders

Although party lists included experienced leaders, current and former student leaders are also on the party lists.

Independent political analyst Pearl Mncube said the inclusion of young leaders should be paid attention.

“One of the biggest challenges in Parliament, as well as within the executive, has been insufficient youth representation. South Africa desperately needs intergenerational leadership. Most political parties have not been prioritising this,” she said.

Mncube said it was “encouraging to witness the likes of ActionSA and [Build One South Africa] including young people higher up in their lists”. She specifically mentioned ANC members such as Zuko Godlimpi, Nonceba Mhlauli and Fasiha Hassan.

Hassan is 65th on the ANC’s list. She is a former #FeesMustFall leader and 2016 student leader at Wits. A trained lawyer, Hassan became the youngest member of the Gauteng legislature, where she chairs the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and e-Government portfolio committee.

Asked about that experience, she said: “You know, when I came in 2019 I was starry eyed, coming on the back of #FeesMustFall, but I’ve learnt a great deal over the last five years.”

The first was to be far more pragmatic in terms of budget and getting things done. She was also a lot more aware of how systems work. “The reality is you can have bold and elaborate ideas, but if you don’t know how to implement them, nothing will happen.”

Public participation

In addition, what she would bring is an understanding of public participation. Hassan said that in the Gauteng legislature they would interact weekly with communities, whether it was about education or economic development.

Looking back over five years, she’s learnt the importance of including residents in a fundamental way in the decision-making process.

“Right now… public participation is more a [tick-box] exercise, unfortunately, and I’ve learnt a lot in terms of creating a meaningful way for our communities to actually have a seat at the table.”

Representing all South Africans

Another potential newcomer to shake up Parliament is DA Student Organisation leader Liam Jacobs, who is 60th on the party’s list of candidates. A student leader, Jacobs has taken the student funding fight right to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s door.

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections

As to who he would represent in Parliament, Jacobs said: “I will be representing all South Africans. I uncompromisingly believe in human dignity and believe that it should be protected and safeguarded by those elected to public office.”

Hailing from Kimberley, Jacobs is due to graduate with an honours degree in philosophy, politics and economics in May.

Asked what he could bring to Parliament, he talked about his leadership roles: “I have led at various levels, ranging from chairperson of a 5,500-student faculty house at the University of Pretoria right through to being a member of the Democratic Alliance’s Federal Executive and Federal Council since 2022.” DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.


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