Gauteng premier candidates behind poster faces

Parties make their selection of who should lead the economic hub

Jeanette Chabalala Senior Reporter
Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi.
Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi.
Image: Lubabalo Lesolle/Gallo Images

You’ve seen their faces on campaign posters on street poles, some more prominent than others. But who are the people vying to lead Gauteng – SA’s bustling economic hub?

Here’s some fun facts about six premier candidates who’ve put their hand up in this election, writes Jeanette Chabalala.

Funzi Ngobeni, ActionSA 

ActionSA's Funzi Ngobeni.
ActionSA's Funzi Ngobeni.
Image: Supplied

Funzi Ngobeni or "Maraizor", as he is known, grew up in Munsieville in Krugersdorp and later went to Bloemfontein. The father of two is celebrating 17 years of marriage this month.

Both his parents worked in the health sector until their retirement. Ngobeni earned the name "Maraizor" while playing amateur football in Bloemfontein.

His teammates thought he owned jersey number 10 like Tshepo "Maraizor" Ntsoane owned the position at Orlando Pirates.

Ngobeni has a national diploma in tourism management and a post-graduate diploma in public management.

Ngobeni is a former MMC for development planning, former MMC for finance, former MMC for transport, former ActionSA COJ caucus leader, Gauteng provincial chair and now ActionSA Gauteng premier candidate.

The party punts him as a capable and ethical leader who has the qualities, experience and willpower to unlock Gauteng’s full potential and create a thriving, prosperous future for all its residents.

Andrek Panyaza Lesufi, ANC 

Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi.
Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi.
Image: Lubabalo Lesolle/Gallo Images

Lesufi's politics were largely influenced by late ANC leader Harry Gwala. Lesufi has supported Moroka Swallows since his teens and admired a player called Andries Panyaza Maseko.  Because his first name Andrek was closer to Andries, he said many found it difficult to pronounce it and opted to call him "Panyaza", which eventually became his name.

His close friend, the late Stanley Mashiane, proposed it to counter those who wanted to use the shape of his head and call him Jomo. He is a former MEC for education in Gauteng, a position he held from 2014 until October 2022 when he became the province's premier. 

Lesufi holds a Master's degree in business administration and is a PhD candidate with REGENESYS Business School. The 55-year-old likes football and flying drones. He is also pro-Palestine.

Lesufi's campaign has been centred around fighting crime in Gauteng by using crime wardens, technology such as drones and fighting unemployment.

Vuyiswa Reitumetse Magdaline Ramokgopa, Rise Mzansi 

Vuyiswa Ramokgopa.
Vuyiswa Ramokgopa.
Image: Supplied

Ramokgopa or "Vie", as she is affectionately known by those close to her, was born in crime-ridden Hillbrow in Johannesburg.

She spent her early years in Cape Town where she attended primary school. Her middle school years were spent in Dakar, Senegal, before she returned home to complete high school in Johannesburg.

The mother of three has a BCom degree in politics, philosophy and economics from the University of Cape Town. Her father Leslie Mutshekwane was a performing artist, a professional actor and voice artist for over 40 years.

He also trained as a classical ballet dancer. He is one of the most interesting people Ramokgopa knows. Her mother Gloria Mosia has been in the advertising industry for over 40 years.

Her mother started out as a copywriter working for some of the major advertising agencies. She then went on to leave a very successful career and start her own communications company in 1996 as a single parent and has been in business since then. 

Ramokgopa's politics and beliefs have been shaped by her experiences and those of the people who raised her. She is passionate about economic and spatial justice, the empowerment of youth and women and the development of the African continent. 

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, EFF 

Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
Image: Gallo Images

Dr Mbuyiseni Quintin Ndlozi from Evaton in the Vaal obtained his PhD in political sociology from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2017. 

He served as EFF's first official national spokesperson until 2020. He was called "The People's Bae" mainly for his singing skills and his charming smile.

Ndlozi has been an MP since 2014 and the head of his party's political education efforts.

Although he has not been seen on posters, Ndlozi received endorsements to be premier from the EFF Gauteng provincial chair, Nkululeko Dunga, and EFF leader Julius Malema.

In 2023, he was in Limpopo to lead the rebuilding of the provincial structure after it was disbanded for failing to get enough support during the 2021 municipal elections.

Solly Msimanga, DA

Solly Msimanga.
Solly Msimanga.
Image: Supplied

Msimanga, from Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, is Gauteng DA leader and also premier candidate.

He joined the DA in 2005 and became a senior director for the leadership and development programme of the DA in 2007 with a specific focus on growing support in black areas. Msimanga is nicknamed "Msola" or "MabigWindow". He has three boys and is in the process of marrying his partner.  

Msimanga was mayor of the City of Tshwane from 2016 until 2019 and his party's Gauteng premier candidate for the 2019 elections. He has a BCompt from the University of Pretoria and a bachelor of social sciences in politics and international affairs. 

Msimanga stopped the usage of blue lights in Tshwane and sold the mayoral mansion for R5.1m during his tenure and used the proceeds to build houses for a community. Msimanga enjoys spending time with his loved ones, and rebuilding/renovating vintage cars.

He also enjoys good music and vinyls. ⁠If he is not walking his dog, Msimanga enjoys cooking and exploring recipes in the kitchen. Msimanga is related to political activist and community leader Dr William Frederick Nkomo. A road leading to Atteridgeville is named after Nkomo, who is Msimanga's maternal grandfather.

Msimanga believes in a two-state solution for the conflict in the Middle East. He says he supports a sovereign and independent Palestine that coexists in unison with a sovereign and secure Israel. 

Nobuntu Hlazo-Webster, Build One SA 

Bosa's Nobuntu Hlazo-Webster.
Bosa's Nobuntu Hlazo-Webster.
Image: Supplied

Hlazo-Webster, 42, who grew up in the townships of Lamontville and Inanda in Durban, is a mother of two boys aged 10 and 15. Hlazo-Webster is nicknamed "Nobs", which she earned in grade 1 at a multi-racial school because her teachers couldn't pronounce her name. She went to an all-girls school all her life. Her father, who died two years ago from Covid-19-related complications, introduced her to politics at the age of seven.

Her father also taught her about capitalism, communism and Bantu education when she was just seven. 

Hlazo-Webster has led development and advocacy organisations including the Businesswomen’s Association of SA as chairperson and the International Women’s Forum as president of its youth chapter, among others.

She holds a BPhil honours degree and several post-graduate business qualifications. She learnt to be a woman leader from her mother, who she describes as a "power woman".  

She loves off-road drives, and her love language is cooking for her family. She also loves being on the ground and engaging with people.

Hlazo-Wester is pro-human rights, life and peace.

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