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Sanda Siphosakhe Luthuli (28)

Senior market analyst, Airports Company South Africa

Sanda Siphosakhe Luthuli is passionate about making sure he uses his skills to ensure economic inclusion is realised. Luthuli holds a MCom in Economics from the University of Johannesburg. As senior market analyst at Airports Company South Africa, he is responsible for market and country risk analysis in in the rest of Africa and emerging markets.

Previously, he was an industrial analyst at Eskom Holdings, where he worked on the multibillion rand expansion programme of Eskom. He was also part of Transnet Capital, tasked with implementing the Market Demand Strategy infrastructure programme to unlock the mineral economic belt of South Africa.

As part of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission, he has actively assisted in projects resolving severe infrastructure challenges. “I have been fortunate to have assisted on projects that have seen communities receive electricity for the first time in 24 years, roads being built in areas previously inaccessible to ambulances and water delivery to communities that have shared water sources with livestock for decades.”

He has also worked with various industries to increase the designation of components, to aid and support locally manufactured products to enter global value chains. “In my current role, I guide investment decisions by ensuring that economic, project and environmental risks are understood and factored into decisionmaking, thereby preserving shareholder value.”

He is a member of the Institute of Risk Management South Africa, and previously served on the Risk Committee of Economic Development. He believes that state owned enterprises are critical in ensuring that structural economic reform happens, and that poor governance at state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is eroding the promise of the developmental state.

“As a developmental economist, I have always understood the complementary roles of the private and public sectors; the public sector is tasked with securing market certainty to enable private enterprise to flourish, incidentally creating jobs and deepening economic gains,” he says.

Luthuli says that he draws his inspiration from his grandmother. “Her faith is her pillar, and she always amazes me with her strength of character, conviction to her values, and permanence of positivity about the future of South Africa. She reminds me that every day is an opportunity to bring about change.” — Aaisha Dadi Patel

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Sherylee Moonsamy (31)

Sherylee Moonsamy (31)

CFO, Johannesburg Development Agency

Sherylee Moonsamy manages a capital budget of almost R2-billion per year as chief financial officer at the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), the area-based development agency of the City of Johannesburg.

After joining the JDA in 2009 as an accountant, she was promoted in 2012 to finance manager. Under this banner, Moonsamy led an integrated process to improve the JDA’s financial, risk, procurement management and governance practices to shift the annual audit opinion from unqualified to clean. In 2016 she was appointed acting CFO.

Moonsamy heads up a finance team of majority black women and serves as a mentor and role model for many professionals across ages and disciplines in the urban development sector.

Projects that Moonsamy’s team have played a part in implementing include construction of the Rea Vaya stations and busways; the pedestrian and cycling route that connects Alex to Sandton; clinics, parks, and community centres in neighbourhoods including Noordgesig, Westdene, Jeppe, and Rosettenville; and the new international transit interchange near Park Station.

“The JDA plays a significant role in the City of Johannesburg, and knowing I am a part of the force that delivers on these projects creates a certain accountability and responsibility that is different from being in the private sector,” says Moonsamy. “I have a role to play in ensuring that the JDA is always steered in the right direction and away from the usual negative connotations that are associated with the public sector.”

Moonsamy, who is inspired by the women in her family and their constant encouragement, says that young people need to dream big and realise their power, no matter what field they are in.

“As an accountant there is very little that we feel we can do to make a real-world impact, however, being a part of an organisation like the JDA allows me to feel like I support a bigger cause,” says Moonsamy. “The JDA has implemented hundreds of development projects all across Johannesburg in areas such as Diepsloot, Orlando, Nancefield, Jabulani and Alexandra, to name a few. Besides just the impact these projects have in the areas that they are in, they also have a significant impact for each and every individual in those communities.” — Aaisha Dadi Patel

Tlhologelo Collen Malatji (25)

Tlhologelo Collen Malatji (25)

Convener, ANCYL Ekurhuleni Regional Task Team

Political activist Tlhologelo Collen Malatji has dedicated his time and energy into campaigning for positive change and advancing the cause of those who are marginalised in society, especially the youth.

“My background in teenage activism from the age of 12 has really opened my eyes up to the inequalities of society,” says Malatji. He holds a number of leadership accolades under his belt, including former national president of Congress of South African Students (Cosas) and former strategic advisor to Gauteng MEC of Education, Panyaza Lesufi. At only 16 years old, he was the Bavumile Vilakazi ANCYL zonal secretary.

Malatji is passionate about advancing the cause for free education. He has spent a considerable amount of time advocating for more access to education. “I am inspired by the growth and the development of the township child,” he says.

As the regional secretary of Cosas Ekurhuleni in 2008, he was part of a collective which led a protest that yielded bursaries worth R100-million for young people in Ekurhuleni to further their studies at higher learning institutions. During his term as Cosas national president, he also headed a campaign to promote students’ access to technology called One Student One iPad.

Malatji says that young people need to draw on the lessons of the greats who came before us, and not forget how much power they have politically. “I am inspired by the great Thomas Sankara, Oliver Tambo and Thabo Mbeki. Young people must never be comfortable in societies that are not enhancing their growth and development. They must continue to fight for their inclusivity in decisions that govern society.” — Aaisha Dadi Patel

Zukiswa Nee-Whang (32)

Zukiswa Nee-Whang (32)

Gauteng provincial campaign director, Democratic Alliance

Zukiswa Nee-Whang began her political career in 2017 as a provincial campaign director for the Democratic Alliance in Gauteng. In addition to that, she also has a passion for early childhood development (ECD), a passion which has driven her to serve as the head of Future Nations Preschools as well as working on various ECD projects.

In both roles — head of Future Nations and provincial campaign director — she’s been the youngest in her team, leading a team of individuals older and more experienced than her, an experience she says was both challenging and exciting.

As a leader, her approach is to make sure that her team has the resources and the right environment to flourish and she strives to motivate them to achieve their personal best. As ECD project manager at Cotlands, Nee-Whang was responsible for forming strategic partnerships with government officials, community leaders and nonprofit organisations across the country with the purpose of developing models and improving efforts aimed at raising access to non-centre based ECD programmes.

Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Social Sciences from the University of Pretoria, a postgraduate diploma in Management from the Wits School of Governance and a national diploma in Early Childhood Development from Montessori Teacher Training Centre.

Nee-Whang had a life-threatening battle with cancer. She was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, the most aggressive and the hardest to treat on her 30th birthday. “For once in my life, I had no control over an outcome,” she says about the experience. She went through 20 rounds of the strongest chemo cocktail, a double mastectomy and reconstruction.

“I lost my hair and aged overnight,” she says, looking back to that process. Her optimistic approach towards life, although hard to keep up at the time, kept her going. After having gone through her journey, she now no longer fears failure, hardships or pain. “Instead of fearing them, I now embrace them. I am not intimidated by challenges, disorientation and moments of sheer panic, and I’ve grown 100% confident in who I am as a person, warts and all.”

She is now running a personal campaign to raise funds for Cansa and to bring awareness to the KwaZulu-Natal oncology crises. The campaign is called #GrabABoob and through it, she is hoping to bring the message of breast cancer awareness and prevention to the youth, and creating an opportunity to raise funds and help those who can’t afford cancer treatment. “I run for those who will never get to the finishing line. I run for those who are fighting for their life,” she says heartily.

She’s recently been appointed to lead the DA campaign for the next election of the premier in Gauteng in 2019. She considers this appointment a highlight in her career and is gearing up to work hard and rise to the occasion. — Welcome Lishivha

Sindisiwe Ndlovu (33)

Sindisiwe Ndlovu (33)

Protocol officer, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Art, Culture, Sport and Recreation

Sindisiwe Ndlovu has been involved in regional political structures since 2003, when she was 19 years old. A member of the Young Communist League, she is the personal assitant for the MEC of sports, art, culture and recreation in KwaZulu-Natal Bongiwe Nomusa Sithole-Moloi, as well as a provincial executive committee member of the ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal.

Ndlovu is passionate about community life. “I do not have a child of my own, but I play a role in helping many of the children in my extended family, especially those who no longer have parents,” she says. “In our community I have worked with different youth organisations, both political and non-political.” Ndlovu’s line of work enables her to move around KwaZulu-Natal, where she interacts with many different community stakeholders.

Passionate about politics, Ndlovu is inspired by struggle hero greats. “The people who have inspired me most are Mam’ Albertina Sisulu and Mam’ Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. I have learnt a lot from these women politically and socially. They have proven that you can be any person you wish to be,” she says. “They have shown that your age, background and political challenges do not hinder any progress you want to achieve in life. They were also able to maintain their homes and keep them warm regardless of the situation that was happening to them. They managed to raise their children and also participate in the struggle to fight apartheid.”

Ndlovu is also inspired by her boss, MEC Sithole-Moloi. “Getting a chance to work with her made me to understand the lives of people who went to exile, and their passion for this country. She is a wife, mother, ANC PEC member, member of parliament and an MEC, but she always finds a way of balancing all these roles that are entrusted to her with a smile.”

Her ultimate dream is to see a South Africa that is safe for women and children, with equality in healthcare and education. “We need to have a South Africa where schools and hospitals can have same facilities, regardless of the area and the status of the school, so that there will be no class barriers in our communities,” she says. — Aaisha Dadi Patel

Russel Mulamula (33)

Russel Mulamula (33)

Board member, Roads Agency Limpopo

Russel Mulamula is the deputy director responsible for state-owned companies’ governance and oversight within the Limpopo Provincial Treasury. He plays an advisory role in boards and audit committees of five provincial state-owned enterprises (SOEs). In his role, he monitors unwanted expenditure, performs analysis on delegation of authority and monitors public entities to ensure they comply with the legislature.

The highlight of his career in the public sector was in 2014 when he initiated and organised the first Limpopo Provincial Corporate Governance summit. The summit was aimed at discussing the state of corporate governance in the province. The event brought under one roof the speaker of the legislature, members of executive councils, municipal mayors, heads of departments, senior government officials, as well as board members, chief executives and chief financial officers of SOEs, to deliberate on the state of corporate governance and compliance in the province.

He took interest in corporate governance as an area of study and ended up completing a Certificate in Public Management and Leadership from Syracuse University. It was this course that made him realise that there was too much emphasis on private sector governance and not enough on the public sector — which our country can benefit significantly from improving. He strongly believes that the public sector could improve with more officials who specialise in corporate governance as a field of study to inform their practice, because it is the lack of understanding in the sector that results in poor corporate governance — which subsequently results in many failures in public service.

In 2014, Mulamula was selected as part of the Mandela-Washington Fellowship Programme and was subsequently voted as a board member for the Southern African Regional Advisory Board for Mandela Fellows. He is a member of the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa and he was part of the working group participants for content development of the King IV Report on corporate governance. He holds a postgraduate diploma in business administration and is now a final-year student of master’s in Business Leadership at the University of South Africa. In his spare time, Mulamula enjoys running and plans to run his first 42km marathon in November this year. — Welcome Lishivha

Saki Annah Mokgadinyane (31)

Saki Annah Mokgadinyane (31)

Head of department: governance, compliance, risk and strategy management, CCMA

From a very young age, Annah Mokgadinyane wanted to be involved in government and politics in order to make a meaningful contribution to the development of South Africa. She is the head of the governance, compliance, risk and strategy (GCRS) department of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

“Nothing gives me greater pride than when the organisation I work for delivers its constitutional mandate optimally, to the satisfaction of its intended beneficiaries,” says Mokgadinyane. “At the CCMA currently, every time my team and I develop a new GCRS framework, introduce new systems and processes, or convene a successful conference, it is always with the aim of supporting and assisting the organisation achieve greater service delivery results and achieve its developmental goals in the labour market.”

Mokgadinyane was one of the team leaders who conceptualised and delivered the Inaugural CCMA Conference, held in September 2017, and the CCMA Inaugural Labour Conference, held in March 2018. Jointly, these events attracted more than 1 000 key stakeholders in the labour market to discuss pertinent labour market issues. Mokgadinyane’s research work, which advocated for incremental housing as a means for accelerating housing delivery, has been considered during processes of national human settlements policy development and by public entities in the human settlements space.

She holds a master’s in Public Management from the Tshwane University of Technology, and is pursuing her MBA at the Gordon Institute of Business Science. She is inspired, in particular, by Carol Bouwer and Khanyi Mkhize. “To me, these ladies epitomise #BlackGirlMagic. They are passionate and dedicated to their crafts, hardworking women who represent courage, what it means to break new ground and succeed against all odds. My mother inspires me a great deal also: she is love, beauty, strength, resilience, grace and humility personified.”

She is passionate about the youth, and youth empowerment. “Prosperity can only be achieved through an empowered youth, empowered through education, training and opportunities,” she says. “We need to be empowered to be ground-breakers, innovators, and job creators, actively and positively contributing to the economic development of South Africa. I am youth. And as youth … we don’t want handouts, we want empowerment opportunities!” — Aaisha Dadi Patel

Fortune Mlungisi Mkhabela, CIA, CCSA (34)

Fortune Mlungisi Mkhabela, CIA, CCSA (34)

Group chief risk officer, South African Nuclear Energy Corporation

Fortune Mkhabela has come a very long way since growing up in Pienaar KaMsogwaba outside Nelspruit. He possesses a wealth of experience across politics, senior management positions and faith-based organisations. He wears many hats: In addition to being the chief risk officer of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation, he is also an audit committee member of the department of planning, monitoring and evaluation (Presidency), chairperson of the Risk Management Committee at Govan Mbeki Municipality, and an audit committee member of Gauteng Central Athletics.

He serves as an assistant pastor at the Apostolic Faith Mission Bethesda (Msogwaba) and is the founder of the Movement of Baptism and Outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, he is completing his MBA with the University of Reading, UK.

Mkhabela has also spent a fair amount of time in student politics, having served as deputy president of the Student Representative Council at Wits in 2007. During his term, he was part of the group that protested against the privatisation of residences and proposed fees and worked with university management to agree to a third meal for all students on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. He was also previously treasurer of the South African Students Congress, Johannesburg Region, and a member of both ANC and ANC Youth League structures.

He is driven to not only do his best for himself but also to constantly work to uplift others. “Being from a very poor family background, having experienced poverty and hopelessness from birth, has made me to work throughout my life to defeat poverty and to create opportunities for others to succeed,” he says.

Mkhabela draws strength from his faith, which led him to start the Movement of Baptism and Outpouring of the Holy Spirit with the aim of helping to teach Christians about the centrality of the role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian faith.

“I am inspired by Chief Albert Luthuli, who was a president of the ANC and also a servant of Jesus Christ. President Luthuli was a man of integrity, humble and shaped vision, and his love for his people was unmatched. He was willing to put down his life for South Africa to be a better country for everyone who lives in it.” — Aaisha Dadi Patel

Freddy Sonakile (28)

Freddy Sonakile (28)

Advocate and legal advisor, North West Provincial Legislature

Freddy Sonakile is a legal advisor at the North West provincial legislature, and is key in providing legal advice to its members. After completing his degree in law at North West University, he became admitted as an advocate of the high court. He then joined the legislature when he was 24. “It is through my work that provincial laws are made by the lawmakers/members of the provincial legislature (MPLs),” says Sonakile. “The process of law-making involves the drafting of Bills, engaging the public and a lot of advocacy programmes popularising Bills. These are the laws that impact on the lives of ordinary South Africans, the poor and the marginalised.”

Sonakile says that every day is a learning process for him. “I get to interact with the people from the deep rural communities and small dorpies of the North West and solicit their views on Bills that will later have an impact on their lives. This process gives them a voice on the Bills that later become law.”

One of the laws Sonakile has been part of drafting is the North West Biodiversity Management Act, which deals with the management and conservation of the North West biophysical environment and protected areas. The Act was drafted in line with International agreements on the preservation and sustainable exploitation of biodiversity. “It brings so much joy in my life knowing that years from now future generations will understand the importance of protecting biodiversity and will utilise this important piece of legislation to ensure that our biodiversity is preserved.”

Sonakile was raised by a single mother, who remains his inspiration. “My mother is the epitome of resilience. She has seen enough things in her life that could break anyone, but she never gave up. She taught me not to give up and the power of trying again.” Having this kind of spirit has led to him also doing motivational talks at local schools, encouraging young people. “I was only 24 when I joined the legislature as a legal advisor, I was the youngest, not only in the division but in the entire institution, and it was not easy. I have learnt that there will always be pessimists and people who will doubt you but with a good enough dosage of dedication, it’s possible.” — Aaisha Dadi Patel

Itumeleng Mafatshe (29)

Itumeleng Mafatshe (29)

Deputy director: research and data analysis, Gauteng office of the premier

Itumeleng Mafatshe is a senior researcher, policy analyst and the deputy director: research and data analysis in the office of the premier in Gauteng. With a keen focus in a number of areas of study, including climate change, sustainable development, food security, agriculture, energy, gender, and politics, Mafatshe holds two master’s degrees: in political studies from Wits University, and in climate change, agriculture and food security from the National University of Ireland, Galway.

She received the latter as a recipient of the Kader Asmal Fellowship for South African Students in Ireland. She is also a former graduate research fellow of the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya, and has held multiple student leadership positions both locally and abroad.

In the premier’s office, Mafatshe plays a key role in the implementation of Ntirhisano, a community outreach flagship programme that creates a platform for Gauteng residents to interact with senior public servants. This programme has had an impact on how issues of service delivery are addressed from local to provincial government level. Additionally, her research in places such as Kenya has contributed to policy-making processes there.

“I am driven by the desire to serve others, and live my life in a way that is beneficial not only to me but also to those that are around me, in particular those that tend to be deemed as voiceless and marginalised,” says Mafatshe. “I am passionate about women’s development and in everything I do I commit myself to bring to the centre a gender perspective.”

Mafatshe is clear about what changes she believes need to take place in order to make South Africa better. “At the core of a South Africa that is underpinned by the values of freedom, equality, non-racialism, non-sexism and a respect for the beliefs and opinions of others, is the ability to respond to this generation’s most pressing challenge of increasing climate change and urbanisation,” she says.

“In this regard, I hope for a future where all South Africans are able to adapt to the pressures of food insecurity, health, and access to natural resources that come with the variability of our environment.” — Aaisha Dadi Patel

Kgosi Motšoane (29)

Kgosi Motšoane (29)

Strategic partnerships and knowledge generation official, Tisa Divisional Executive Management Unit, Department of Trade and Industry

Kgosi Motšoane is a passionate public servant, working to forge closer ties with the rest of the African continent. He works for Trade and Investment South Africa (Tisa) under the deputy director general.

He was part of the founding team for the Trade Invest Africa (TIA) initiative of the department of trade and industry which aims to promote outward investments and value-added exports into the rest of Africa as a means of increasing the levels of intra-Africa trade.

“A career highlight for me has to getting the rare opportunity to be part of TIA’s founding team, and being able to shape new ways of promoting South African businesses across the rest of Africa,” says Motšoane.

He is well-qualified for this role, with degrees in international relations, political studies and development economics from Wits University; and experience in academia, civil society and the private sector. He is also a skilled public speaker and in his personal time, a writer.

For Motšoane, it’s always been clear that his passions lie in developing Africa. “It becomes near impossible resist the allure that is encapsulated in Africa. Sure, there’s a lot of work across all fields that still needs to be done, but that’s the magic of it. Everything I do in national government forms part of my life’s work — that’s why it interests me,” he says.

He says “a career in government is a relational one,” and this type of situation is something that motivates Motšoane. “I’m primarily inspired by my work family; it is not lost on me that the dynamic relationship we have, combined with how synchronised we are when there’s a high-pressure situation, which comes every other week, everyone forgets their performance agreements and contracts and gets down to the work that needs to be done. That’s rare.”

Motšoane is passionate about the potential young people have to build the Africa of his dreams. “I want to live to see young people living in a country that allows them to fall and not stay down, that allows them to pursue whatever whim, wonder and perhaps calling they have. I hope that all those pursuits allow them to reach a point where their parents are able to say ‘they’re better off than where we were’.” — Aaisha Dadi Patel

Zuko Ludwe Makaula (29)

Zuko Ludwe Makaula (29)

Assistant director: training logistics at the National School of Government

Zuko Ludwe Makaula is an assistant director in training logistics at the National School of Government (NSG). The NSG’s legal mandate is to provide and facilitate education, training and development in the public service. In his current role, Makaula contributes towards building a skilled and professional public service to support, among other responsibilities, the National Development Plan’s call of building a capable state to play a developmental and transformative role.

The training programmes that Makaula is responsible for include Gender Mainstreaming in the Public Service, Advanced Management Development Programme and Diversity Management. “The transformation that training programmes that the NSG delivers provide great impact in the improvement of service delivery in the South African public service,” he says.

Makaula holds an honours in Industrial Psychology and a postgraduate diploma in Business Management from Walter Sisulu University and the University of Kwazulu-Natal respectively. He is completing a Master of Commerce in Business Management at Johannesburg Business School while working.

“I am inspired by anyone who demonstrates qualities such as perseverance, grit and hard working towards achieving what they are passionate about. For me, these qualities contribute towards the successful achievement of one’s goals,” he says.

Prior to his current role, Makaula did a stint at the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science, where he was a senior programme co-ordinator in the doctoral programme. He has also been a fieldworker supervisor at the Human Sciences Research Council. Makaula has presented a number of papers in conference proceedings, including at the 5th International School of Public Management and Administration Conference at the University of Pretoria, and the 2nd National Qualifications Framework research conference.

Makaula’s passion is in training and development and he continuously mentors and assists young people from his rural areas to gain access in higher education. “I’m driven by the need to make a difference, hence I regularly advise and assist young people about accessing institutions of higher learning, especially from my home town of Lusikisiki,” says Makaula. “I’m also committed to lifelong learning as I continuously develop myself.” — Aaisha Dadi Patel

Luyanda Mfeka (30)

Luyanda Mfeka (30)

Director, mayoral communications, City of Johannesburg

Luyanda Mfeka, spokesperson for Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba says people are at the core of his work.

“This isn’t communication for its own sake. It’s about ensuring that there is continuous accountability from government to residents. The most important part of the work I do is ensuring that communities have a means of connecting with their elected representatives within the executive arm of local government.”

As the director of all mayoral communications, Mfeka says that his role “is far from being a walk in the park”. He co-ordinates all communication on behalf of the mayor, his latest in a string of roles he has played in local government structures.

After studying law and journalism at Rhodes University, Mfeka became involved with the Democratic Alliance (DA) in a bid to launch a political career. His first official party role was as the DA’s senior legislative researcher, where he was responsible for establishing and managing the party’s internal legislative advisory unit in Parliament. He then served as spokesperson to Western Cape health MEC, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, and served as a member of Lindiwe Mazibuko’s team during her term as parliamentary leader of the DA and the official leader of the opposition in Parliament.

Raised by his grandparents, Mfeka holds the meaning of community close to his heart. “Ultimately, what gets me up in the morning is knowing that the work which I am fortunate to be a part of, has real meaning to the lives of people within the City. “We’re trying to bring positive changes to the lived realities of communities throughout the City. I like to believe that what does keep me going is my genuine interest in the wellbeing of others. Serving people is at the heart of what we do.” — Aaisha Dadi Patel