'Speak out about your problems,' urges the EFF's polite and youngest candidate
Eighteen-year-old Sisonke Jaca is as demure as his 90-year-old political colleague is feisty.
Jaca is the youngest candidate in this year’s local government elections and responds politely to questions with a “Yes, sir”, “No, sir” or “Excuse me, sir?”
Like 90-year-old veteran Arnold Mthuthuzeli Specman, Jaca is a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in the hotly contested Eastern Cape. His political leanings shine through when asked about his message to voters.
Jaca is standing as a councillor in ward 5 in the Lusikisiki region.
The issues are the same in much of this largely rural landscape.
The beautiful rolling hills of the Wild Coast are set against a backdrop of despair. In the lush green valleys, many neighbourhoods are cast into darkness at night.
“I just want to help some people who are very poor. There’s a lack of jobs, sanitation and other services,” Jaca said when asked why he decided to enter into politics.
Even at such a young age, his disenchantment with the status quo is clear and biting. Just a week before, the area was ablaze with violent protests as residents vented their frustration at Jaca’s predecessor.
“They were angry, they were closing roads, they were destroying things. They said she must go,” the Grade 11 learner said.
“This is freedom time. They are voting in every election. They must see this is their land.”
The EFF’s political message appealed to him because “I think they can change things in this country”.
Jaca is an assortment of tastes and yearnings. He loves the dance-floor hits of house music stars like Big Nuz and MiCasa, but also enjoys the gospel of Sfiso Ncwane and Rebecca Malope. He describes his love for one Ncwane tune as “a miracle”.
One moment he is serious as a judge, holding forth on the evil and suffering wrought by unemployment; the next he is gushing about his passion for football – “too much”, he says with a boyish smile in his voice.
He is resolute that he wants to pursue a career in politics “to address people in Parliament about what is happening all around the country”. But he cannot quite commit to a field of study after high school, other than to reveal that he is fascinated by South African history.
It is understandable that Jaca is somewhat conflicted in a world and a country that baffles adults twice his age. There’s no hesitation about one thing, though. His voice rises about half a decibel as he discusses his rallying cry to South Africans.
“They mustn’t sit down and keep quiet. They must speak out about their problems. The EFF will deliver. I’m 100% certain about that.”