Mehmet Vefa Dağ, a Turkish businessman who settled in South Africa about two decades ago, is looking to obtain an ambitious title of being the first Turkish-born president of the country.
Dağ, who hails from the eastern Turkish province of Van and holds dual Turkish-South African citizenship, was nominated for the May 8 elections by his South Africa National Democratic Movement (SANDM). SANDM, which replaced the Al-Shura Party that he founded in 2016, aims to leave its mark in the upcoming elections and promises an improved economy for the country. Dağ arrived in Cape Town in 2001 after graduating from a Turkish university and launched a successful wholesale business.
"We have 8,000 registered party members and plan to hold a large campaign rally in Cape Town on March 23. I was born in Turkey but people here see me as one of their own," Dağ says. The politician lost the mayoral election in Capetown three years ago but he is undeterred. Speaking to the Yeni Şafak newspaper, Dağ said he is the first foreign-born South African citizen to compete for the presidency. "SANDM is among top five parties in Cape Town and we formed an alliance with eight other parties to increase our chances to win," he said.
The candidate promises a "social revision" if elected and says he will boost the local economy with projects like a locally-made car, high-speed train services as well as the construction of "Africa's biggest airport."