Newly-elected DA provincial leader NQABA BHANGA will be the province next week to introduce the party’s new executive to constituencies, accompanied by his party chairman, Andrew Whitfield.
Bhanga is not new to political leadership, having led in two other political parties before joining the Democratic Alliance.
He speaks to politics reporter SIMTHANDILE FORD about life, leadership and children.
SM: Who is Nqaba Bhanga?
NB: I was born in Port Elizabeth, KwaZakhele, Nobatana Street in 1977 on August 28. I started my primary schooling at Ebhongweni Primary School at age eight due to my mother’s unemployment. She could not afford to register me or acquire a birth certificate for me to prove my age. I proceeded to do my primary school at Nkqubela Higher Primary and my high school at KwaZakhele High School, a historic school.
SM: What was your earliest political influence?
NB: It was at KwaZakhele High School when my student leadership started. When I was doing Standard 7 [Grade 9], I was elected the regional chairperson of the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) in the then Western region of the Old Eastern Province.
SM: What is your highest qualification?
NB: I enrolled for higher education studies in Port Elizabeth Technikon and qualified for the National Diploma Public Administration. I further enrolled for Maritime Studies and I have finished my course work. I will be finalising my research soon.
SM: How is your immediate family set up?
NB: I am not married but I am in a relationship. I am a father of three children. My father and mother continue to celebrate the work I continue to do for all our people.
SM: You moved from the ANC to COPE and later to the DA.
NB: As you have seen, the ANC has always been part of my life and built me organically from a child to a youth leader. I was introduced to the political philosophy of the ANC through the branch of the youth league when I was 12 years old; joining it illegally because you could only join at 14 then. My height worked for me in this instance.
In Cosas we were inducted to the Congress’ traditions and disciplines, the ideologies, philosophy and economics, from Karl Marx to Adam Smith and this shaped my views on the world outlook.
After working in Luthuli House, I was also exposed to both [Thabo] Mbeki and [Jacob] Zuma and people that were closer to both of them.
As secretary-general of Sasco, I was in a position to interact with the succession debate in the ANC and I opposed Zuma’s leadership from the beginning.
When I left Johannesburg, I was the main youth leader that opposed the election of Jacob Zuma and supported Mbeki openly, I publicly opposed the position of the ANCYL in supporting Zuma and was heavily punished for that.
When Mbeki was removed from Office of the President of the Republic in an unconstitutional way, I realised that the ANC I joined when I was young had ceased to exist. I could not associate myself with the new culture of the new Zuma ANC and decided to join other South Africans to form an alternative to the ANC – COPE.
I was elected as a president of the youth of COPE and later become a member of parliament of the Congress of People.
[I left] when COPE failed on the mandate given by the people because of the internal infighting that was not assisting in the broader programme of saving South Africa.
SM: How did you join the DA?
NB: It was a period of not less than a year that I wanted to quit politics and go explore my marine studies. In the period, I had engagements with Athol Trollip whom I was travelling with in doing oversight in parliament.
We met in East London in 2013 and we agreed together that the people of Nelson Mandela Bay needed us to work together to save first Nelson Mandela Bay and, ultimately, the Eastern Cape and South Africa.
When I decided to serve the DA as councillor, I left parliament with benefits and chose to cut my salary to half of what I earned in parliament just to serve the people of my city, Port Elizabeth.
SM: Among the people who have been co-opted to be in your executive is your long-time comrade Mlindi Nhanha.
NB: Mlindi is an organic and dynamic asset we have acquired as the DA. He has good history of fighting against the brutal system of apartheid. He was in the youth league and served in parliament with me and I’m proud to be associated with him.
- The Saturday Dispatch asked Bhanga about not being present when the announcement was made that he had been elected DA provincial leader at the recent congress held at the East London ICC. He refused to answer the question.