'We are ANC, DA, EFF!' Registering to vote for the first time

2019-01-26 22:21
Sharon-Lee Williams registers to vote for the very first time, with DA leader Mmusi Maimane by her side. (Jan Gerber/News24)

Sharon-Lee Williams registers to vote for the very first time, with DA leader Mmusi Maimane by her side. (Jan Gerber/News24)

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On Saturday, 18-year-old Sharon-Lee Williams registered to vote for the first time. 

For others in her position, this would usually be a rather nondescript, bureaucratic event, to be sorted out in a few minutes. But Williams found herself in the midst of the DA's campaign maelstrom. 

DA leader Mmusi Maimane, DA provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela, candidate for the Western Cape premiership Alan Winde, DA MP and spokesperson on corruption Phumzile van Damme, DA Women's Network chairperson Nomafrench Mbombo, DA Western Cape deputy leader and MEC Albert Fritz and election campaign spokesperson on youth Luyolo Mphithi,  together with their media staff and other DA-supporters – altogether about 22 people in DA-blue – descended on Williams' house in 7th Avenue, Eastridge, Mitchells Plain, with the media in tow. 

Unfazed in the sudden glare of the media spotlight, and with Maimane's arm around her slender shoulders, Williams told the media she finds everything rather exciting and that she is looking forward to registering to vote for the very first time.

"I also want to motivate the other youngsters, it is your future, so make a choice," she said, with Van Damme nodding in agreement beside her. 

She said the most important thing government can do, is to create jobs for young people. 

After graduating high school in 2017, Williams spent last year at the Chrysalis Academy, a non-profit organisation mainly funded by the Western Cape Provincial Department of Community Safety, the very same the department where she is currently doing an internship. Next year she will apply to become a law enforcement officer.

The entourage left her home on foot for the voting station – the Mitchells Plain library. As they left, some of the blue-T-shirted members of the group started chanting: "We are? DA! We are? DA!"

After the last chant, a young girl from a neighbouring house blurted out, much to the amusement of journalists within earshot: "We are? ANC!"

Passing through a market area, Maimane was often stopped by people who wanted their picture taken with him.

However, the adulation wasn't universal.

"The DA is robbing the people. They give houses to the black people," a man said as the entourage passed him by.

"EFF!" a young man shouted.

"Waar's die joppe wat julle ge-promise het?[ Where are the jobs you promised?]" another man shouted, seemingly annoyed. "Julle is 'n klomp skelms, man! [You're a bunch of crooks, man!]"

"Dis Helen se mense [These are Helen Zille's people]," said a fruit vendor as the blue entourage passed him by.

"Hey DA! Where's the sweaters, man?" asked a man with an imposing grey beard.

"Daai's Mmusi Maimane, nè [That's Mmusi Maimane, right]?" one man said to another.

At the voting station, Maimane went in with Williams, introduced himself as "Mmusi" to the attending Electoral Commission staff, and explained that he was accompanying Williams as she registered to vote for the first time. 

Within minutes, a smiling Williams was registered.

"I'm very excited, I'm feeling happy," she said to the media outside the library.

"I thought it was going to be a really long process, but it was really quick and easy. It went really fast," she said.

Maimane said it was special to share the day with Williams. "She encouraging all her friends, all young people, let's get out there, let's vote to build one South Africa for all," Maimane said.

While the DA congregated in front of the library's entrance, a stern official of the Electoral Commission asked them to move to the side. They went to the DA's stall a few metres away, for more photos or videos and singing. 

Not far away was a lone, elderly woman in an ANC T-shirt. While the DA sang, she chanted "ANC!". Winde went over to her, and she said her name is Eleanor Buthelezi and she will vote ANC until she dies. Winde said she is nevertheless welcome to a cup of tea at the DA's stall.

A smile spread across his face as he noticed a brown envelope behind Buthelezi's chair. "Did Rasool give you that brown envelope?" he asked, with a hint of mischief in his voice. 

A few steps away from the blue brigade Williams stood, in her black summer dress, when News24 approached her to ask what she makes of this whole hullaballoo. 

"The encouragement was great. I'm thankful," she said.

Asked if she believes voting will make a difference to her future, she said: "I believe so, yes." 

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Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  cape town  |  voter registration
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