Young and old go to parliament

04 May 2009 - 02:00
By unknown

Don Makatile

With two fewer seats now than in the dissolved Parliament, the UDM takes only four of its members to the National Assembly.

This is the same number of seats as the ID and FF Plus.

But the UDM retains the quiet wisdom of its second-in-command, Ntopile Kganyago, who as he turns 69 later this year, will be among the oldest parliamentarians in the fourth democracy.

Even incoming president Jacob Zuma, younger by two years, and the 400-odd old and new faces coming to Cape Town after the swearing in on Wednesday, would do well to heed the advice of the soft-spoken Kganyago.

A qualified teacher, Kganyago's body of work found much expression around his home town of Seshego in Limpopo. He's still involved in local organisations like the performing arts body.

Typical of the old school pedagogues, he rose through the ranks - from teacher to inspector of schools.

He did his Bachelor of Arts degree through Unisa, graduating in 1974. From 1996 to 2004, he was at the Centre for Student Counselling and Development at Unin, as the then University of Limpopo's Turfloop campus was known. He later obtained a B.Ed degree there.

He still found the time to do a certificate course in guidance and counselling with a British college and acquired a Masters in Arts, specialising in school psychology, at the University of Delaware.

An active community member, he got involved in civic politics as a municipal councillor in 2000, paving the way for his rise to national politics.

He's been deputy minister of Public Works since 10 May 2004, a position he is likely to retain under Zuma's tenure given his conciliatory tone.

Kganyago's party leader Bantu Holomisa has constantly been a thorn in the ANC's side, especially Zuma's, since the ANC expelled him.

With his vast interest in psychology, the deputy minister's softly-softly approach might just be what's needed to bridge the divide between Zuma and Holomisa.

The new young crop of MPs could not have asked for a better counsellor.

Like the star-studded line-up of a good team, the ANC list to Parliament makes for fascinating reading.