Publication: The Star Issued: Date: 2010-07-24 Reporter: Carien Du Plessis

Shaik's niece eyes DA



The Star

Date 2010-07-24
Reporter Carien Du Plessis
Web Link

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 service".

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 medical parole.

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 government elections.

With acknowledgements to Carien Du Plessis and The Star.

Will it be Helen for president or Seham for president?