‘I’m a youth ambassador’

2012-06-23 19:06

The country’s youngest Member of Parliament, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, believes there can never be enough young people in positions of power.

Hlengwa, who turned 25 last week, says South African youth bear the brunt of every challenge facing the country.

“Young people can’t be bystanders, we must elevate ourselves. We can’t procrastinate on youth involvement,” he says.

The IFP Youth Brigade national chairperson was sworn in as an MP on May 8, becoming the youngest politician in Parliament, where he serves on two portfolio committees: economic development, and sport and recreation.

He is a few months younger than Democratic Alliance MP Geordin Hill-Lewis, who turned 25 in December.

“I want to learn and my first month has been a huge learning curve,” Hlengwa says, adding that he is settling in well.

He says he is a youth ambassador: “I’m here on an IFP ticket to serve all South African youth”.

Hlengwa says he has been warmly welcomed to Parliament and one of his first tasks was being a member of the ad hoc committee conducting interviews for the new National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) board.

“The NYDA interviews proved that the country has a great wealth of young people,” Hlengwa says.

His father is ex-IFP MP, Nkosi Mhlabunzima Hlengwa, who died in 2005.

“I derive a lot of inspiration from his work,” Hlengwa says.

Hlengwa describes himself as “umfana wasemakhaya” (a village boy) from Mfume, near uMgababa, south of Durban.

He treats older MPs as colleagues but adds that he exercises a level of respect towards them appropriate to being only 25 years old.

“I must not be tjatjarag and think I’ll change South Africa overnight,” Hlengwa says.

Hlengwa completed his matric at Port Shepstone High School in 2005 and enrolled for a political science and community development degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

He is now registered with the University of South Africa to complete the degree.

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