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For Ntombi Mekgwe politics isn’t just a career, it’s a way of life

By Faeza
30 September 2015

When Speaker of the Gauteng Legislature Ntombi Mekgwe joined the students COSAS in the 70's she knew that even as a high school pupil at Nkomazi high school in Komatipoort, she had a responsibility to bring about pulpable change not only for herself but for the millions of other students suffering the same injustice and for the countless more who would no doubt flourish under an improved and fair education system. Years later she sits as the speaker of the Legislature determined to work towards equality, change and prosperity for those who have been disadvantaged.

The accidental politician

“I’ve never wanted to be a politician back then when I started as a member of COSAS , I didn’t know what a politician was, as a student I wanted to solve the immediate problem we were facing at school , we have many issues like corporal punishment and as we tried to fight that we were told to go back home and when I was in Duduza I realised that pupils there faced the same issues because corporal punishment was part of a bigger education policy , a policy enforced  by apartheid so ultimately we were fighting the bigger picture which was apartheid,” she says .

A lot still needs to be done

Although the policy of apartheid has been abolished, Mekgwe says South Africa still has a long way to go before we can comfortably claim to have equality and a liveable quality of life.

“I grew up in a poor community in Duduza, where I still live now. I see poverty every day, I see young people facing the same problems we faced when we were young. Although a lot has changed, there is electricity, running water and recreational facilities being built, there are still some challenges that the youth continue to face as well as new changes like unemployment, lack of financial resources and health issues, “she says.

Fruits of their labour

While there are still issues to be addressed, Ntombi is proud to have been part of a government that has improved the quality of life for millions of South Africans

“It is thanks to our government and the department of social development, it is encouraging to see solutions, and children are getting food at schools, in the morning and during break time which is something we didn’t get growing up but there are still issues of poverty, inequality and unemployment which motivate me to keep working towards contributing to eradicating those issues. We fought for our rights, people died fighting and I am motivated to keep working to protect this democracy,”she says.