DA's Tim Harris welcomes the spotlight
Harris says any attention he receives is an opportunity to get the DA's message across.
CAPE TOWN - While it may be his good looks rather than his political standing boosting Tim Harris's public profile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesman on finance says he hasn't letting the extra attention distract him from his work.
Harris trended on Twitter after arriving on the red carpet alongside his wife for President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 13 February, with people across the country tweeting about his striking good looks and their disappointment that he is spoken for.
Is this the DA's secret weapon to get the ladies to vote for them? Well, it works for me! Hello there, Tim Harris! pic.twitter.com/2vymef3FRj
- Cecilia Haak (@ceciliahaak) February 25, 2014
Oh dear 🙈 I think I am in love with Tim Harris...
- Zuraida Jardine (@ZuraidaJardine) February 25, 2014
Tim harris is the only man allowed to take selfies in the world. But he doesn't... swoon
- REAL BLACK PEARL (@PearlThusi) February 22, 2014
Who at SONA can politely ask Tim Harris' wife to step aside for a solo pic of Tim? Because, um, reasons.
- Melanie Bala (@MelBala) February 13, 2014
- Mich! (@iammichiewill) February 14, 2014
But he says he isn't deterred and any attention he receives is an opportunity to get the DA's message across.
"Any platform you get, any media opportunity you get and any attention you receive, you need to use as an opportunity to sell the DA's message and that's a good thing, even if the attention is frivolous and based on the red carpet at SONA."
He says the challenge is to always use attention as a platform to sell whatever ideas you are responsible for.
"We are contesting this election on an economic platform so I am using these opportunities as much as possible to promote our economic policy."
Harris says the recent attention on Twitter hasn't scared him off the platform and says being able to communicate with voters directly is a very powerful tool.
"The immediacy of it is very useful. It ensures you are able to get your message out there quickly and in a direct way, often without the filter of the media between you and the voters."
He, however, adds social media puts more pressure on a person's public reputation because everything you say is on the record.
"In my own way, I am a bit of a purist about Twitter and I think that probably protects me from getting into the debates and conversations that have gotten other politicians in trouble recently."
ELECTIONS/ DA,AGANG DIVORCE
Harris says it's a pity that the DA and AgangSA partnership didn't work out.
"Dr Ramphele definitely had a role to play in realigning the opposition and it's unfortunate that it didn't work out in the end. It would've been great to have her on board but she made the decision not to follow through with that."
He says he doesn't think the split will affect the DA vote-wise.
"We certainly haven't seen any measurable effects on people intending to vote for the DA. We are confident it's not going to affect our votes in the election."
Harris says the most interesting thing about the ANC manifesto is that it's very light on ideas.
"Someone called it a PowerPoint presentation and I don't think they are far off."
He says the DA's manifesto is totally opposite to the ANC's and sets out to try and tackle South Africa's biggest problems with real and innovative solutions.
"We are quite encouraged that what we're putting on the table is a set of ideas that will accelerate growth in South Africa and create the jobs this country needs. I think that puts us in a very strong position going into that campaign."
When asked where he sees himself going in the political arena, he said it's too hard to tell at this point.
"Politics is very difficult to predict. If you had told me when I started in politics that in 10 years we would be running the City of Cape Town, the province of the Western Cape and more than 20 municipalities around the country, I probably wouldn't have believed you."
'ACCIDENTAL' ENTRY INTO POLITICS
Harris says his foray into politics came as something of an accident.
He got into politics in 2004 after finishing his masters in economics at the University of Cape Town.
"It kind of happened by accident. I wasn't really interested in politics in university. I was very involved in Rag, I played rugby and really embraced student life. I only became aware of the importance of politics and the contribution I could make after university."
One of his professors knew someone at the DA who asked her if they could get someone to help on the party's economic policy.
"I was offered a three-month contract to do that during the 2004 elections and then the political bug bit."
"Over the past 10 years, I think in my own small way I have managed to have an impact on democracy, hopefully a positive one."
Harris, who has been married for three years, says becoming a father is a "mind-blowing experience" that has motivated him even further.
"I don't want to sound too melodramatic about it but from the moment I became a father the work that I do became that much more important because I am no longer trying to do my bit to make sure democracy works for me and my generation, I am now trying to leave this country a better place for my daughter."