Young South Africans: Politics

A chapter of the Mail & Guardian‘s 200 Young South Africans You Must Take to Lunch

Robert Nkuna
Robert was appointed councillor in 2006 effective until 2010. Previously he was senior manager: media relations at the ministry of communications, responsible for media relations during the development of the Electronic Communications and Transaction Act, the amendment to the Broadcasting, Telecommunications and the Postal Services Acts. He has also served as general manager: corporate communications at the SA Post Office, acting as the official spokesperson for the state-owned enterprise, and as deputy director: policy at the Government Communications and Information System.

Robert was also involved in various student and community media leadership positions. In 2005 he completed a master’s of management in public and development management, at the University of the Witwatersrand, obtaining a distinction in his research on the application of ICT in local economic development. In 2006 he was accepted to pursue his doctoral studies on ICT policy and regulation at the same university.

Lunch spot: Butcher’s Grill, Sandton

Ryan Coetzee
Ryan began his career at the top of the Democratic Alliance so young, and is so closely associated with Tony Leon’s period in leadership, that it is easy to forget he is just into his mid-thirties. He made a range of enemies as the DA’s main election strategist, both within the party, and outside it.

But there is no doubting his insight and his political judgement. Having helped craft the strategy that seduced right-wing voters from the national party, and then destroyed it as an electoral alternative, he wrote a brutally honest paper setting out the DA’s need to better understand the damage wrought by apartheid, to speak a new language and to win black voters.

He is clear-eyed about how difficult that will be, how long it will take, and how essential it is to the party’s future.

In the meanwhile, an election that could deliver the party control of the Western Cape looms and Ryan will have his hands on the levers as the DA crafts a plan to limit gains by the ID and take advantage of massive disenchantment with the ANC.

One day he may have the luxury of coming across as a nice guy—for now he must get the job done.

Lunch spot: Limoncello, Breda Street, Gardens

Fikile Mbalula
Known as “Mbaks” to his friends, Fikile has said goodbye to the ANC Youth League and is now tasked with building the organisational structures of the ANC from its headquarters in Johannesburg. He serves on the most powerful body in the party, its national executive committee, as well as on the national working committee that oversees the day-to-day running of the organisation. He conceptualises and designs campaigns for the ANC that will help the party increase its membership and provide better political education and understanding to ANC members on grassroots level. His day job is visiting branches all over the country to bring them up to speed with current political issues and helping them respond to the issues that their communities are grappling with.

Lunch spot: Pigalle in Sandton, for a duck l’orange and a good chardonnay

Juanita Terblanche
Juanita is that rarest of parliamentary species: a member of the National Council of Provinces who is young, energetic and on the way up. Her best-known triumph was in 2004, when she managed to get a motion passed censuring President Thabo Mbeki over his attitude to rape. Dozing ANC members assented to a text saying “[the NCOP] regrets the refusal of the president to address the serious crime of rape in our country and to acknowledge the suffering of women and children who have been attacked on a daily basis”.

Juanita is active in debates on HIV, the economy and gender and manages to make her views heard despite operating in a relative backwater of the legislative system. She comes from a staunch Democratic Alliance family—her father, Chris Hattingh is a member of the North West provincial parliament—but her recent promotion to DA whip in the NCOP has everything to do with her talent, and the ascendancy of liberal leadership in the party. Who’s who lists her membership of the Lepidopterists society; we think she will be netting some bigger, perhaps uglier, prizes in the political jungle. In fact, we’d like to make a modest proposal to the party leadership (which has battled since the departure of Raenette Taljaard to make a meaningful contribution to economic debate in the National Assembly): How about another young, bright, woman for the job?

Lunch spot: Chef Pons Asian restaurant, Cape Town; Upstairs at 82B, Potchefstroom

Julius Malema
Recently crowned as the president of the ANC Youth League, Julius is the new face of the youth of South Africa. His appointments diary is jam-packed with meetings with individuals and organisations at all levels of society. He runs the political programmes of the youth league on a day-to-day basis, strategising on how to make business and society more youth-friendly.

He engages with big business on how it could employ more young people, with educational institutions on how to train them, and with youngsters themselves on how to best capitalise on the opportunities that come their way. Listening to problems facing the youth and proposals on how to solve them remains his core function. Because he is not a great fan of restaurants, he will leave the choice of the spot to whomever invites him to lunch.

Food: Chicken and pap

Naledi Kekana
Naledi is an achiever of note. A trained dancer, she is currently studying for a commerce degree. Inspired by the work of Steve Biko and Malcolm X, last year she became a Goldman Sachs Global Leader representing South Africa at their institute in New York. She volunteers for the Treatment Action Campaign and the African Renaissance Organisation.

With a deep compassion for women and children’s issues, Naledi was one of four girls who organised a girl-child conference under the auspices of the Global Campaign for Education and the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union. She has participated in the Young Women Knowledge and Leadership Institute in Dakar and is a member of the Young South African Women in Dialogue forum. Naledi currently tutors mathematics and English at Ikaneng in Diepkloof and is a member of the Wits wing of Amnesty International and the Wits Volunteer Programme.

Lunch spot: Mastrantonio, Illovo, Johannesburg

Zizi Kodwa
Zizi joined the struggle at the age of 15 in KwaLanga township. He participated in Student Representative Councils and in more militant organisations such as the Congress of South African Students, which was banned and later reincarnated as the Township Student Congress. Once at university he became a member of the South African Students Congress and was involved in the SRC. Zizi was determined to fulfil both the demands of studying and politics. He successfully accomplished this, being elected SRC president and graduating with an honours degree in development studies.

As a member of the ANC Youth League, Zizi worked in different capacities in the league’s Western Cape branch and was later elected on to the organisation’s national executive committee. He was a member of the ANC Youth League until its last national congress in Mangaung.

Lunch spot: KwaMzoli in Cape town or Sundays at Tubbs Car Wash for pap and chops, Corlett Drive, Bramley, Johannesburg

David Masondo
David’s commitment to the struggle grew out of early childhood experiences of rural poverty, apartheid and undemocratic traditional leadership. He is a political studies lecturer at Wits, where he is also studying to obtain his PhD. David has published extensively and presented numerous academic and South African Communist Party papers. During his studies at Giyane College he led the South African Students Congress (Sasco) and was president of the Student Representative Council.

In 1996 he was Northern Transvaal provincial chairperson of Sasco, and a year later became national deputy president. In 1998 he was SRC president at Wits and in 1999 was appointed national youth commissioner. He then became the SACP’s national political education coordinator and youth desk coordinator. From 2003 to 2005 he served as chairperson of the ANC Youth League in Limpopo province. He is the national chairperson of the Young Communist League and a member of the SACP central committee.

Lunch spot: Joe’s Butcher, Alexandra, and Busy Corner, Tembisa

Nyiko Floyd Shivambu
Nyiko’s activism began when he was a high school student. Pursuing a political path, he soon grew within the ranks of the ANC Youth League and the South African Students Congress, becoming president of the Student Representative Council at Wits University in 2004. He now works for the Chris Hani Institute, a post he recently accepted after being national coordinator for policy development and research for the South African Communist Party. Nyiko is also a national committee member of the Young Communist League.

After making a valuable contribution during a merger that led to the formation of the Union of Students in 2006, he was invited by Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to be a member of the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition Joint Task Team. He has made a significant contribution in the programmes to prioritise and intensify the provision of quality skills, education and expertise.

Lunch spot: Panyaza, Rockville, Soweto



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