Denis Worrall and the political importance of Somerset West

Koos Myburgh and Dr Denis Worrall at the launch of Dr Worralls book, The Independent Factor, at Exclusive Books, Somerset Mall.

Dr Denis Worrall, who contested the Helderberg constituency as an independent candidate in the 1987 election, launched his book, The Independent Factor, at Exclusive Books in Somerset Mall, on Saturday April 6.

“In my view politics is not a career or a job. It is a vocation, or as they say in Afrikaans ’* roeping. When you lose it you shouldn’t stay on in politics. Or if you do stand in politics you need to change your role – which is what I chose to do. I resigned my plum position in London and with Anita and our boys returned to South Africa and the election in Somerset West in 1987,” says Dr Worrall.

“Somerset West was naturally attractive to me. For years my parents had property in the constituency and a holiday home in Gordon’s Bay, where both my parents lived their last days. My two brothers and their families also lived in the constituency. In fact, at election meetings, I used to joke that I already had about 12 ‘Worrall’ votes. And quite frankly, I liked Somerset West. It is a lovely town.

“And a very important factor: it has both Afrikaans and English speakers, and in a very friendly relationship, and a very interesting coloured community. And part of Stellenbosch, with all those old intellectual friends of mine several of whom would be supporters but most of whom would be a pain in the backside in the election, also formed part of the constituency.

“We lost, of course, by 39 votes out of 18 000 cast. And I know that there are many present Somerset West and Stellenbosch residents who remember that election, and the day and the night of the election as one of the most exciting experiences in their lives.

There was more to follow, of course. The establishment of the Independent Party which led to the establishment with, Wynand Malan and Zach de Beer, of the Democratic Party, of which I was one of the leaders. And which signaled the end of ‘whites only’ politics. It all happened out of Somerset West.”