Cape Town - Shaun August’s story is that of the unlikely rise of a former Pollsmoor prison warder to that of possibly become the next mayor of Cape Town.
But he’s coy when it comes to questions over his ambition, for now, he wants to retain his leadership of the DA in the Cape Town Metro.
He describes his stint as a prison warder as “very challenging” having survived a few attempts on his life, working with some of the worst gangsters who ended up behind bars.
August was catapulted into the position when his predecessor Grant Pascoe suddenly dumped the DA for the ANC on the eve of the 2014 general elections.
Whereas Pascoe had an acrimonious relationship with former DA provincial leader Patricia de Lille and Helen Zille, August credits his rise to Cape Town’s mayor.
August has been chairperson of the DA in the Cape Town metro since 2015, and when De Lille suddenly quit as provincial leader at the start of the year he stood against Human Settlements’ MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela and Lennit Max as acting provincial leader.
Madikizela won that contest, and is expected to win at the DA provincial congress next month, backed by Zille and the party’s traditional support base despite a scandal over a surprise birthday party, thrown for him in March, which he had failed to declare.
August got his start in 2004 when he joined the Independent Democrats, starting off first as De Lille’s bodyguard.
“In 2006 I was her protector for a month and then I became the campaign manager for a month for the ID for City of Cape Town where we were predicted to get 13 councillors but we actually achieved 23,” said August.
The ID’s caucus in the City of Cape Town came to the DA’s rescue when the ANC, along with smaller parties in the cobbled coalition, sought to wrest control of the City.
August describes his strengths as planning and strategy which he says was the reason he “fell into” the role of the DA’s campaign manager for last year’s local government elections in which it recorded its highest ever vote percentage with 66,6% of the support.
He says he wants to ensure that the DA in the Cape Town Metro region “contributes significantly” to ensure that the ANC is brought to under 50% of the vote nationally in 2019.
“That has been my campaign for the last eight to nine weeks. We’re focusing our campaign on 2019, to be part of history to bring the ANC under that 50%,” says August.
Asked about where the DA can still find room for growth considering its dominant position within the City of Cape Town, August says the party can grow in the black townships, amongst backyard dwellers and those who are apathetic about voting.
“There’s a few areas where I will be focusing on, and each one will have a different approach and strategies,” says August.
He says today’s contest his important for him because he believes that he’s an instrument for change, “to assist people in their daily lives”.
“Being that instrument you need to be part of steering the ship to drive that agenda. Being the regional chairperson you need to have the ability, and you’ve got the vehicle to drive specific campaigns and ensuring that our residents of Cape Town have a better life,” says August.
Earlier this year he got into trouble with the DA for flouting its procurement rules over election t-shirts ahead of last year’s local government polls. August escaped with a slap on the wrist from the party’s hierarchy.