Youngest MPL: I’ve been threatened, insulted, condemned but I soldiered on

2014-05-18 06:01

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Katlego Phala was only a two-year-old toddler at the dawn of democracy. Two decades later, she voted for the first time on May 7 and from next week will start her first job as a Member of the Provincial Legislature (MPL) – the youngest in the country at 22.

Raised by a single parent in Mankweng just outside Polokwane in Limpopo, Phala had gone through the challenges and limitations experienced by the youth, including a lack of education and unemployment.

She matriculated in 2010 and because of financial constraints, could not immediately enrol for higher education although she is now studying public relations management through Unisa.

“I was not going to sit and accept things as they are. I had to stand up and take it upon myself to make a change in my community – and the DA appealed to me as a perfect vehicle,” she said.

Phala joined the DA in June 2012 and went on to establish a branch in Ward 25, Mankweng. Now two years later, after undergoing gruelling selection processes, she is off to represent the party as an MPL in Limpopo.

“It was not an easy journey but we all worked hard. I have campaigned fiercely for the DA since I joined the party and worked tirelessly with others to ensure it stayed relevant to our people.”

On why she chose the DA over other parties, Phala said: “The ANC liberated us and I also realised some of the people in the DA have also contributed to the struggle. I then asked myself what the ANC has done post-democracy.

“I wanted to know whether the ANC had freed people from the bondages of poverty, unemployment and given them the better life as promised. I didn’t have to look any further for my answers but my immediate community. We have the ANC delivering in bits and pieces just before elections to lure voters only to disappear afterwards.

“The DA has changed lives in the Western Cape and that alone has given me hope.”

Going into the Limpopo legislature, Phala said she was going to represent the youth.

“I will not only be there to push the ANC to deliver on its promises but will mostly raise youth issues like educational funding as well as crime, which is caused by a lack of sports facilities in our communities,” she said.

In the legislature, Phala will find herself sitting among seasoned politicians.

“I am well prepared for the challenge. I have been through a lot already from being threatened, insulted and condemned but I soldiered on,” she said.

“Right now, my plan is to be in the legislature, grow as a politician and help govern South Africa in the best interests of our people.”

» Phala was number three on the DA candidate list in Limpopo. The DA won three seats in the province.

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