'I want to improve the lives of the working class': Meet ANC's youngest elections candidate

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Christiaan Hendrik Nicolaas Carstens.
Christiaan Hendrik Nicolaas Carstens.
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  • Christiaan Hendrik Nicolaas Carstens is the youngest ANC candidate in the municipal elections.
  • The Young Communist League of SA member grew up reading about Vladimir Lenin. 
  • He is in his first year of studies for a BA degree in Political Leadership and Citizenship. 

Meet the youngest ANC candidate, who will contest for a council position in the upcoming municipal elections in November. 

First year Unisa student Christiaan Hendrik Nicolaas Carstens, 20, from Jeffrey's Bay in the Eastern Cape's Kouga municipality, is the ANC's hope to take Ward 8 from the DA.

Raised by a high school history-teaching father and a stay-at-home mother, he became fascinated by stories about Russian communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin from an early age. 

Now, a member of the Young Communist League of SA (YCLSA), his big mission is to win in the 1 November elections.

The YCLSA is the youth league branch of the SA Communist Party, an alliance partner of the ANC and Cosatu. 

No party, other than the DA, has ever controlled the affluent, seaside Wavecrest suburb in which he is contesting. 

READ | Elections 2021: ANC candidate registration completed - nearly 50% women, 25% young people

Speaking to News24, the first year BA student in Political Leadership and Citizenship said:

I am running to help increase the chances of the ANC's PR candidates in Kouga. Hopefully, my candidacy will inspire the youth, as well as the general public, to participate in constructing a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society.

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said the party deliberately fielded Carstens, as well as other young people, to have more youth representation in councils across the country.

During a televised media briefing on Wednesday, Duarte said: "We have a candidate as young as 20 years contesting in Kouga. We insisted that the list must have a component of young people. Approximately 25% of our list is composed of young South Africans, so that we can build for the future."

READ | Elections 2021: All you need to know

The enthusiastic youngster has a passion for uplifting the lives of people - and believes in equality for all. 

Christiaan Hendrik Nicolaas Carstens.
Christiaan Hendrik Nicolaas Carstens.

He said: "If we unite as a country and take action, we can create a society where all South Africans go to bed with food in their stomachs and roofs over their heads, where all South Africans enjoy decent employment, quality healthcare as well as affordable food, and where all South Africans can get ahead in life and enjoy relative prosperity."

Carstens said his main goal was to play a role in the ongoing process of transforming society for the better. 

ALSO READ | ANC in Eastern Cape facing allegations of candidate list tampering

Asked about his future plans, he said:

I would like to be in a position, whatever that position may be, that allows me to effectively assist in empowering our communities, thinking of effective solutions to the problems facing our country, and that allows me to partake in the betterment of society, as a whole. In 10 years, I hope to be healthy, happy and still able to contribute towards society.

Asked what inspired him to run for the ward councillor position, he said: "The more I studied history, the more I became aware of the prevalence of inaccuracies, half-truths and even outright lies that are propagated regarding the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, and regarding what communism is really all about.

"At the same time, my appreciation for the sacrifice of all those who participated in the anti-apartheid struggle, and global struggles against injustice, grew. Since then, I wanted to participate in improving the lives of the working class, in particular, and society, in general."

While Carstens' family is fully behind him in his political career, they were too shy to speak to News24.

READ | Elections 2021: ANC, other parties meet deadline for candidate registration - at second time of asking

When asked why Lenin was his role model, he replied: "Lenin and the Bolshevik party were crucial in organising the workers and peasants of Russia to fight for economic development, stability and peace, and to resist the inhumane practices perpetrated by the Tsarist regime against workers, non-Russian peoples and women."

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