Mzansi's youngest MPs

By Drum Digital
11 July 2014

Here are some of the young crop and what they hope to achieve in their new positions of power.

Here are some of the young crop of South Africa's parliamentary talent and what they hope to achieve in their new positions of power:

Yusuf Cassim

Age: 24

Party: Democratic Alliance

While studying at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth in 2009 Cassim got a taste of serving the people when he was elected as chair of the Muslim Students Organisation.

Cassim says he is most passionate about student issues and unsurprisingly he will champion the cause of free higher education in parliament.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to represent young people in particular,” he says. “I see it as a platform to raise issues affecting young people and redressing legacies of the past.”

Mkhuleko Hlengwa

Age: 27

Party: IFP

He has been head of the Inkatha Freedom Party’s youth brigade and an issue close to his heart is that of youth unemployment. “We need to expedite policies of job creation and education,” he says.

Hlengwa is especially looking forward to working with other parties to reach the same goals as he says, “When the government fails the people suffer”. He believes in constructive engagement with other parties.

Phumzile van Damme

Age: 31

Party: DA

She’s a graduate from Rhodes University where she majored in political science, international relations and law. Van Damme’s political career took off straight after university with the Democratic Alliance, serving as the party’s research officer. Van Damme says she’s looking forward to being at the centre of decision-making. “I’m looking forward to keeping the government accountable and am also hoping to inject some excitement into the parliamentary proceedings,” she says.

Zakhele Mbhele

Age: 30

Party: DA

He has been active in the Democratic Alliance for almost nine years, beginning while at university in Johannesburg as office-bearer in the youth wing in various positions. Like van Damme he was selected to be in the DA Young Leaders’ Programme in 2008, which is the party's leadership development and mentoring programme for promising future leaders. He then served in the Premier's Office as Helen Zille’s spokesperson.

“I’m looking forward to discussing legislation in portfolio committees, standing committees and site visits, parliamentary debates and driving relevant issues in the media,” he says.

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi

Age: 29

Party: EFF

He has served as the official spokesperson for the Economic Freedom Fighters since late last year. Currently a PhD candidate at Wits University, his research explores the question of how black youth is constituted and constitutes itself as a “distinct political subject category”.

“The EFF will keep alive the agenda of economic emancipation in parliament,” says Ndlozi.

Mduduzi Manana

Age: 30

Party: ANC

He credits his mother and reading the works of former ANC president Oliver Tambo as one of the factors that inspired him. He is a graduate of the University of KwaZulu-Natal where he graduated with a BA degree in political science and is currently studying towards a Master’s in public administration.

He believes the government needs to move with speed in terms of creating jobs for young people. “That’s an area that can set us back in the gains that we’ve made over the years,” he says.

By Sthembile Gasa

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