Durban – A 17-year-old aspiring DA politician from Durban is upset by an attack on him from an MP in his own party.
The DA’s youngest leader, Nick Farrell, has been “advised” by DA MP Dean Macpherson to focus on his studies rather than carry out stunts like “challenging” DA leader Helen Zille’s position.
The 17-year-old made headlines last month when he offered to take on Zille during the party’s national conference to be held in Port Elizabeth next month. Farrell told the Mail Guardian he was approached by senior party leaders to launch a “protest candidacy”. He would not say who approached him.
At the weekend Farrell, a member of the DA Youth and ward chairman for ward 27, in Morningside, posted a press statement on Facebook withdrawing from the challenge. But that still did not impress Zille supporter and close ally Macpherson.
“Funny, all DA politicians and journalists think you’re a joke. But you’re going to need to do some more work at UCT to get accepted after your ‘stunt’,” said Macpherson on Facebook.
“I don’t worry about you, in fact no one in the DA is,” Macpherson said, attacking further by casting doubt on Farrell’s ability to get into UCT.
Farrell is a Grade 12 pupil at Clifton College in Morningside, Durban, and he has applied to study for a Bachelor of Arts at UCT next year. He said he would later do political science. He said two weeks ago he was elected chairman of the party in Morningside. The ward councillor is Martin Meyer, also of the DA.
Farrell said he was worried that as an MP Macpherson might be able to influence the university against accepting him. He said he would take up Macpherson’s comments with the provincial chairman.
“I am very nervous that a member of Parliament can say that my chances of getting into UCT are in jeopardy just because I took a stand against Helen Zille,” he said.
“Zille had supported my campaign against her. She said my campaign was funky. She also supported that I created a debate about leadership within the DA.”
Farrell said he had serious discussions with Zille before he withdrew his campaign. He said after the discussion he realised that his campaign had sparked a leadership debate, which would make the party stronger, more united and more democratic.
Macpherson later told The Mercury that Farrell should focus on his matric results instead of allowing himself to be played “like a fiddle”.
Macpherson said he felt that Farrell was being used by factions within the party.
“I am saying that from the beginning him being used and allowing himself to be used by people was a problem and I felt for him. My heart goes out to him,” said Macpherson.
UCT spokeswoman Patricia Lucas said the university considered all applications on academic merit.
“The university is not influenced in its admissions decisions by any political party,” she said.