Age is just a number in politicsComment on this story
Cape Town -
Just six and a half months ago it was illegal for Samantha Olane to buy beer, see 12 Years a Slave and vote. Now the 18-year-old politician is about 30 000 votes away from becoming a lawmaker.
Olane, from the IFP, is the youngest candidate in the province.
Olane matriculated from Princeton Secondary School in Woodlands Mitchells Plain last year and is one of 60 131 newly registered voters between the ages of 18 and 19 years in the Western Cape and 664 581 registered nationally.
She is working on a contract for the City of Cape Town to paint over graffiti in Woodlands and Colorado Park.
However, her chances of going to the provincial legislature are slim. She is No 22 on the IFP’s candidate list for the Western Cape.
The IFP has never held a seat in the legislature and received only 1 158 out of the nearly 2 million votes in 2009.
Olane said she was excited and nervous about voting.
“Voting is a bit confusing for young people because there are many political parties and all of them are making promises – most of them empty,” she said.
Olwethu Bottoman, 20, from King William’s Town is another young candidate. Bottoman joined the African People’s Convention (APC) in 2012. The APC has one seat in the National Assembly.
Olane and Bottoman are just two of the 8 587 candidates hoping to make it to Parliament or the nine legislatures.
At the other end of the political spectrum are the oldies – people who have reached retirement age.
Razak Ebrahim, 77, from the National Freedom Party (NFP) is the oldest provincial candidate. Ebrahim, an astronomer from Zeekoevlei, retired as a high school teacher in 1993 – three years before Olane was born.
But like Olane, Ebrahim
is also only voting for the first time on May 7. Ebrahim joined the NFP three years ago and is the party’s provincial convener.
“I have never been involved with politics before. Before I felt there was not a party I could vote for, but this year I can vote,” he said. “I will vote for myself.”
Ebrahim is one of 196 415 registered voters in the Western Cape above the age of 70.
He is the No 1 candidate for the NPF for the legislature.
It will be the first time the NFP will contest national and provincial elections.
Meanwhile, at 85 IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, is one of the oldest candidates for Parliament.
Buthelezi said he had 44 years parliamentary experience (including in the KwaZulu legislature) which was a “heavy responsibility”, but he would bring “continuity and institutional memory” if re-elected. “It is concerning that there may be no more than a handful of MPs who were actively involved in the negotiation of our transition from apartheid,” he said.
His advice to new candidates was to study, study, study.
“It is unacceptable to see how often MPs show that they are not familiar even with our constitution or the rules of Parliament,” he said.