Publication: The Star
Reporter: Carien Du Plessis
Carien Du Plessis
It's a coup for the DA as well as a bitter triumph of
sorts for the Shaik family, as a young niece of the famous
brothers with their close ANC ties is in training to become
a future DA leader.
Second-year University of KwaZulu-Natal BA student Seham
Areff, 19, described by her lawyer uncle Yunus Shaik as a
young woman with "depth, breadth and tenacity", is making
her public debut at the party's weekend congress in Cape
Town, where she will be addressing delegates.
For more than six months now Areff, who majors in law and
politics, has been on the DA's Young Leaders Programme,
designed to train promising politicians to be future
national leaders of the party.
Her interest in the party started during last year's general
elections, but she was not allowed to vote as she turned 18
one day too late.
"I was looking at which party I would have liked to vote for
and started reading their manifestos, and I started thinking
about politics. The DA appealed to me in terms of policy,
their liberal ideology, and their contribution to a stronger
democracy with checks and balances on the ruling party."
Areff joined the DA Student Organisation at the end of last
year during elections for the university's student
representative council, and was subsequently chosen to
participate in the programme.
Despite whispers that some of the uncles are less than
impressed with the youngster's liberal leanings, Yunus Shaik,
who is half-brother to Areff's father, Salim, said the
family "celebrates the fact that nieces and nephews take a
lively interest in our society and seek a life in the public
He said there were lively debates at family dinners and that
Areff excelled. "She is able to debate 10 rounds with me and
Mo and any of us, and she is very much equal to the task."
He admitted it was a loss to the ANC, but magnanimously said
"she is a credit to the DA".
The Shaik family has strong struggle ties and is close to
many ruling party leaders, including President Jacob Zuma.
But the DA has been critical of their links and their
doings, and were especially fierce in their criticism of the
release of convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik from jail on
At its weekend conference the DA is expected to grapple with
ways to co-operate more closely with other opposition
parties to reduce the ANC's majority at next year's local
With acknowledgements to
Carien Du Plessis
and The Star.
Will it be Helen for
president or Seham for president?