When my father, the late ANC stalwart Steve Tshwete, was released from prison on March 22, 1979, his first stop from prison was at Mzomhle High School, where I was doing my matric.
It was a Wednesday and the principal, Mr Tengimfene, called me on the intercom to come to his office. There he told me that my father was waiting for me.
I was excused from school for the whole week to spend time with my father. This was the first time that I saw my father. I was very shocked and happy. The only fathers I knew were my grandfathers.
When I recently joined the DA, I thought about this day, so many years ago.
All his life, my father fought for individuals’ right of association. He always said that people must do what they believe is right. It is my right to join any political party of my choice. By joining the DA I am fulfilling that which my father’s generation fought for.
Like many black South Africans my age, I grew up in ANC-aligned organisations. I was very involved in the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Azanian Students Organisation (Azaso), which is now South African National Students Congress (Sansco).
Growing up in Ginsberg and Peelton near King Williams Town, I was inspired by the late Steve Biko. My secondary and high school education was funded by the Zingisa Education Trust, a Steve Biko project, and I was friends with Lungisa Duna, Mr Biko’s relative who stayed with him.
I did not write my matric exam in 1979, because of the student uprisings. In 1982, I was also expelled from Fort Hare University because of my involvement in the struggle.
When the UDF was launched in 1983, I was one of its activists and became an executive member of the King Williams Town unit.
In 1988, en route to join the ANC in Botswana, I was arrested at the Ramatlabama Border Post. I was only released the next year.
In the 1990s I was an enthusiastic ANC activist and remained an ANC supporter through the years.
But the ANC of today is not the ANC my father fought for. I have become disillusioned with the ANC of today. The organisation has changed.
I looked briefly at AgangSA, but its directionless path means it could not be my political home.
When Nosimo Balindlela (former premier of the Eastern Cape and currently a DA MP) and others joined the DA, it triggered my interest in the DA too. I started to study the DA’s policies and followed the party’s activities — especially in Parliament.
When the DA elected Mr Mmusi Maimane as its leader, I realised that the party is serious about change. Contrary to what many black South Africans are often misled to believe, I saw that the DA was prepared to change and take South Africa forward.
The stalwarts of the ANC, like Ronnie Kasrils, have been beginning to question some of the ANC’s decisions and are also becoming more convinced that the ANC of today is no longer the proud organisation that I (and my father) invested so much in.
I decided to join the DA because I see it as the future of uniting all South Africans.
I joined the DA because I believe it will change South Africa in a meaningful way for all.
I joined the DA because I believe, under the party, the South African government will be accountable to the people and ensure that the country moves forward with regards to the economy, education, health and redress.
I joined the DA because under it, everybody is given a fair chance to improve themselves.
I joined the DA because I care deeply about South Africa and its people.
I joined the DA because our country is crying out for change, and the DA is ready to answer that cry.