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Meet South Africa’s youngest MPs

Higher education and the country’s finances are uppermost in the portfolios held by South Africa’s two youngest MPs‚ Hlomela Bucwa and Gwen Ngwenya‚ both of whom are former student leaders now representing Democratic Alliance voters.

The Parliamentary Monitoring Group has published its mini-study on young parliamentarians ahead of Youth Day on June 16. The PMG obtained the birthdates of all current members of parliament‚ with the exception of ministers and deputy ministers.

From the data collated‚ PMG has found that the median age of members of parliament is 54 years.

PMG’s findings show that only 23 MPs fall under the category of youth (35 and younger) – 18 of them are in the National Assembly and the remaining five are in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). This category of youth makes up 6% of parliament. Thirteen of the younger MPs are female and 10 are male.

The DA has the largest number of young MPs between 25-35 but is outperformed by the EFF and IFP proportionally.

The youngest MPs per party are

1. Hlomela Bucwa (DA) 25

2. Gwen Ngwenya (DA) 28

3. Nkagisang Koni (EFF) 30

4. Mkhuleko Hlengwa (IFP) 31

5. Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (EFF) 33

6. Wouter Wessels (FF+) 34

7. Tasneem Motara (ANC) 35

Bucwa‚ first noticed when she was president of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Student Representative Council‚ gained national prominence last year when she slayed her maiden speech in parliament. She told the nation: “It is my generation that will successfully eradicate the social ills that still prevail because we refuse to be divided by race‚ gender and religion‚ but instead we will be unified because we understand we are all fellow human beings.” She also cautioned‚ "Let us tread softly because we tread on the dreams of a lost generation.”

However‚ her committee attendance record in parliament this year is poor. The People’s Assembly website states she has only attended two meetings out of 6 – in contrast to last year when she had a 100% attendance rate.

Ngwenya‚ a former SRC president at the University of Cape Town who worked for the Institute of Race Relations before signing up as a DA policy leader‚ has an economics masters degree. She’s outspoken on many issues and is active on social media platforms. She’s also committed to the work of parliament‚ with a 100% attendance record in committee as an MP for 2018‚ focusing on the finance and appropriations portfolios.

The EFF’s Koni‚ meant to serve in the National Council of Provinces' land and mineral resources committee as well as the communications and public enterprises committee‚ scores a fail on her attendance rate in parliament’s second house. So far this year she has a 44% attendance rate‚ similar to last year when she had a 43% attendance rate. These are however vastly improved on the two previous years - 26% in 2016 and 14% in 2015.

The first male of the young brigade is the IFP’s Hlengwa‚ who has been an MP since 2014 and is a leader in the party’s Youth Brigade. His committee attendance as a MP stands at 83%. He is representing the party in the public accounts‚ finance and water committees.

Ndlozi‚ also the EFF’s national spokesperson‚ focuses on the communications portfolio and has so far attended more committee meetings this year‚ with a 83% attendance rate‚ than last year‚ when this was a lowly 31%.

Science and technology are interest areas for the FF+'s Wessels‚ recently moved to national from the provincial legislature‚ while the ANC's Motara is in the NCOP. She rose through the ranks of the Youth League in Ekurhuleni.

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