Thorne Godinho
Thorne Godinho

DA election candidates: Not business as usual

Modern politics is often an exercise in disenchantment. Never mind the politics of austerity; politics in general can be rather austere. In 2014, politics amounts to the realisation that Barack Obama’s “yes, we can” is impossible in the face of American partisan bickering. It is the understanding that there will always be Nkandlas and arms deals, despite the needs of the desperately poor.

But sometimes the disenchantment dissipates, and there’s a glimmer of hope.

This past weekend the Democratic Alliance (DA) announced its candidates for the general election due to take place later this year. For me these lists represent the hope we long for in modern politics. It is a step towards a politics of imagination, where capable people with big dreams serve ordinary people like you and me.

As an aspirant public representative, I am inspired by the young men and women on the list. They have succeeded despite the emotional toll politics takes on its participants, and they continue to fight for change. I want to write about three of these young people who have inspired me on my own political journey.

Zak Mbhele:

Zak has been a constant fixture in my life. He went from being someone I engaged with online, to a person I confided in on a regular basis. And since his trek to the Western Cape, where he serves as the spokesperson for premier Helen Zille, I have grown used to hearing his measured voice on the nightly news. Over the years, as both of us grew into our new lives and career paths, Zak and I haven’t been in contact as much as we used to be. Zak now ranks fifth on the DA’s Western Cape National Assembly list.

Zak is a former LGBT activist, having worked for HiVOS as a programme officer and served as a former spokesperson for Joburg Pride. His ranking on the DA’s list represents how far South Africa has come as a country in respect of gay rights. Moreover, his placement on the list is a representation of hope and possibility for one of Africa’s most vulnerable groupings. He used to support youth in their personal journeys towards acceptance; he will no doubt continue to fight for equality in Parliament.

Marius Redelinghuys:

When Ayn Rand had confused me into accepting an extremely narrow narrative about political life, Marius was there to fight with me. As a former Cope spin-doctor and current director of communication for the DA in Gauteng, he is a progressive democrat. A fiery character fit into a wiry frame, Marius is always extremely principled in his fight for social justice. He hardly engages in ideological warfare with anyone any more, but he certainly helped shape my belief in a type of politics that can do more, and achieve greater ends.

Marius is number 17 on the Gauteng National Assembly list. He’s from my home province and he studied at my university. The University of Pretoria’s long history of turning out leaders on the right-wing has always troubled me but Marius’ stellar academic record at this same university speaks to the changing nature of our society.

Phumzile van Damme:

Just like Marius, Phumzile spent a significant period of her life in Pretoria. She attended high school at the same school I would drag my mother to when participating in public-speaking competitions. But it would only be years later that I’d end up engaging with Phumzile, as a fellow participant in the DA Young Leaders’ Programme. She ranks seventh on the Western Cape National Assembly list.

Admittedly, I haven’t spent nearly enough time with Phumzile. But I have watched her career closely. This humble and kind Rhodes graduate is a masterful operator in the business I engage in every day (political communications), having worked as a spokesperson in the Western Cape government and currently heading up the DA’s parliamentary communication and research operation.

The above candidates represent a break from the politics of disenchantment, and will hopefully join similarly capable young candidates from the DA and other parties in Parliament following the elections. These young candidates don’t represent business as usual in South African politics; they represent the South Africa so many aspire to live in.

Tags: , , , , , ,

  • Thank you, Mr Trump!
  • Has the time for ‘talks about talks’ come in SA?
  • From Hitler to Zuma to Trump: We are simply bad at democracy
  • The assassination of Shaka the unifier is a lesson for the ANC
    • Tofolux

      @Thorne, there is something quite unbecoming of those who campaigns openly for a political party whilst claiming that they are making an objective analysis. What is unacceptable is the overt and covert intentions. The DA does not resonate with me and yet I cannot post a ‘thoughleader’ debate on why I think that the DA is bad for this country. I also cannot under a ‘thoughtleader’ debate post on who I think is good for this country fearing that my contribution will be censored only in order to monopolise your ideas. I have mentioned it before that there was something ‘off’ about agang and Mamphele’s new ventures. I have said that it was formed by the DA in order to garner black votes and for those votes to be sold to the DA under the pretense of a merger before elections. Now I am not a fortune teller and I do not hear voices in my head and yet I could see through the antics. It begs the question, why didnt any ‘thoughtleader’ in the interest of furthering healthy and objective engagement/discussion or enlightenment also ‘not’ see this? It is this kind of manipulation and untruths that smack of the apartheid like tactics of lying and deceit. That is unacceptable by anyone’s standards and I would beg of others not to try and deceive others. Rather state your case with the openness and honesty that you demand of others and let us have a fruitful discussion. This would be healthier and would assist us in our battle of ideas.

    • Mr. Direct


      I am not sure what possible benefit the DA would have had to start Agang, and then absorb it before the elections. Surely if she was expected to underhandedly garner black voters on behalf of the DA, they would have unified AFTER the elections. Perhaps you can think of a genuine benefit of this strategy, but I see none.

      Anyway, it is not nearly as misleading as suggesting that a particular political party is endorsed by God, and that others will bring back apartheid if given power.

      But on the blog above, Thorne is genuinely excited about the candidates being pushed into the limelight in the DA lists, and to be fair, it was pleasant to hear the opinion of somebody who knows them, and what they stand for.

      We have seen so many blogs with starry eyed writers for the benefit of the ANC and EFF, so why not have somebody discuss benefits of another political party?

      Your political bias seems to cloud your judgement as normal. Is it impossible to be impressed yet unmoved by the DA’s selections?

    • Bakerman

      @Tofolux, a interesting theory,therefore is ANC really a front for communist party, personally would not be surprised at all, looking at all deployed cadres with communist back ground

    • Rory Short

      The only way that any country can really make progress is if it has leadership that is 100% committed to universal moral principles. Right now that is not the case in government in SA so I hope @thorne you are correct in your assessments.

    • Tofolux

      @Mr Direct, objectivity by ‘thoughtleaders’ should provoke ones thinking especially when you are sitting in a particular camp. It is unacceptable to promote untruths under a banner of ‘thought-leading’. When you battle for your idea, you should make complete sense and not promote non-sense. Your analogy of pre and post is incorrect by any standard of objectivity.
      @Bakerman, the ANC is a broad broad “church”, suggest you google the explanation and once the penny drops, I am sure you will get it.

    • Cynical is good

      @Tofolux Now that we have heard the Oracle speak maybe you can also explain the hidden meaning behind an ANC food parcel!