14/02/2014. DA's Cilliers Brink speaks to the Pretoria News about the DA. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Realising that choosing a political party to vote for was a bit like finding a life partner, Lali van Zuydam went on a dating spree with representatives of the various parties that will contest the May 7 elections to find the right party for her. This is the first of how her dates with the DA went.

Pretoria - I have taken the leap and ventured into the exciting world of dating – political parties, that is. Last week I mused that picking a political party to vote for was like picking a partner and I challenged myself to date a handful of prospective partners in the run-up to the elections.

These dates are supposed to help me choose which party to vote for on May 7.

My mission is this: to find a stable partner I can commit to in the long term, a partner that is “raceless” and a partner who will provide me with sustainable opportunities such as jobs and tertiary education.

It sounds like a tall order, right?

First up, and in no particular order, was the DA.

Before anyone gets upset, the party was just the first to respond to my invite to have drinks.

I went to our date with as little bias as possible.

In my defence, I have only voted once before and it was not for the DA. It was not for any of the parties I will be dating.

In this case, my partner, the DA, showed up in the form of 26-year-old local politician Cilliers Brink.

He was punctual and he didn’t try to charm me.

From the outset he told me he could contribute 50 percent to our relationship but that I would be responsible for the other 50 percent.

We were equals, and he warned me – probably as all politicians do – not to trust someone who offered me the world.

He told me he could give me opportunities, but that I had to make use of them.

“I can meet you halfway,” he said. I like that – you have to give some to get some.

He told me his main interest was jobs for young people. He had my attention.

He could provide schooling, textbooks and teachers, but I had to WANT to go to school.

He could create a safe environment for me and provide me with health care, but I had to actively participate in my community.

He cared about young people and their problems, he said, when I asked how he was different from my potential mother-in-law-to-be, Helen Zille (ie, the “mother body”).

“There are issues in this country that are youth-specific. I want everyone to reach their full potential and I want to create an enabling environment.”

He told me he was not always responsive to other possible partners out there, of the so-called “fire pool” persuasion, and he “owned” certain youth issues proactively – for example, the controversial youth wage subsidy.

“I owned that one. By reacting to others I want to encourage and provoke a debate,” he told me.

With regard to my desire to be in a “raceless” relationship, he said it would take time, but we would get there.

He said our past would always determine where we were going to an extent, but he was definitely keen on diversity in all respects: gender, race, culture and age.

“We have come a long way, but we still have some way to go. I want to see a relationship where race doesn’t matter,” he said. That made me smile.

He said if I chose him as my partner, I wouldn’t have to worry about my grandmother’s social grant being taken away.

“I will always support systems that people need,” he said.

On our first date, he told me he wanted me to have a prosperous career. He also wanted to provide private companies with incentives if they hired me as a young professional. He wanted me to be qualified and he wanted me to have opportunities for growth.

“People have aspirations. They do not want to be stuck on the same level,” he said.

He warned me that if I chose him to be my partner, it wouldn’t always be moonshine and roses. I liked the honesty.

He said there would be fights and protests, but he would try his best not to overpromise and underdeliver.

He said many fights were as a result of a mismatch between expectation and actual delivery.

He didn’t seem nervous as I was sizing him up. In fact, it seems he’ll keep doing what he’s doing whether we’re together or not.

He said we could go far.

“We have the right ideological basis that will give us longevity and relevance,” he said.

As it turned out, my dating debut wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought. In fact, I can’t wait for my next date – one that might bring me closer to a decision.

Will the DA win my heart after one date? Not quite yet. I have more dates to go on and more partners to meet before I commit myself to one person (party).

Pretoria News