by Masibulele Mbata


“Anyone can overcome hardships”

Nqabayomzi Kwankwa

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) is one of the smaller opposition parties that are active within the South African political sphere. Young Chief Whips are not easily found within the South African political landscape, however, the UDM holds one of the more promising ones. The 36-year-old, Nqabayomzi Kwankwa comes from a small village called Mnqaba, Middledrift in the Eastern Cape. As with many young black people, poverty played its role in Kwankwa’s life, but this hardworking MP overcame these challenges with flying colours.

Success has never been an option for Kwankwa, it was a goal, and nothing could stand in his way. Kwankwa had to face many harsh realities during his childhood. As with many kids these days, hunger was a regular occurrence – In May 2016 he was quoted by News24, “We used to drug ourselves with medicine to sleep, because you can’t really feel hunger pains when you are sleeping. You only get the reminder of hunger when you wake up the next day”, he said.

His impoverished state cost him dearly at times. One such occasion was when he was unable to attend his father’s funeral in 1999. He had to wait until the following year (2000) to pay tribute to his father.


Many obstacles filled Kwanka’s rise to success. Cape Town became his city of choice during the late 90’s, but he had to spend the first 10 days homeless – sleeping in a rubbish pit on the streets of the Mother City. Hope and belief remained and kept his spirits up and soon found a job. Working as a security officer and a cleaner he managed to finance his studies at the Bellville campus of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (Peninsula Technikon back then) where he studied economics.

Once Kwankwa’s studies were complete he joined the corporate world, however in 2009 he left that in order to create a home for himself in politics.  

Politics was not new to Kwankwa. His grandfather was a political activist during apartheid years and during his years of study, Kwankwa was an active member of the South African Student Congress (SASCO). During this time Kwankwa was a member of the ANC, too, but according to the People’s Assembly, he left the ANC in 2006 and joined the UDM in 2007.

His rise was fast under the tutelage of UDM leader and mentor, General Bantubonke Holomisa. The rise through the ranks was gradual for Kwankwa and in 2013 he was elected to represent the party in parliament as MP. A year later, in 2014, he became the party’s Chief Whip.

Once a politician he became instantly recognisable. His unfortunate background has stood him in good stead as he can now fight for the citizens on issues that really matter. And he does...

He is not shy to debate the issues the country currently face or other issues that might be of concern to the citizens. His mannerism is also a reflection of Holomisa.

Diligence and discipline has played a large part in what Kwankwa has achieved is his thus far, short political career. His past experiences have, and will continue to help him fight the good fight.

If chasing a dream was no big deal to Kwankwa, circumstances would have resulted in him giving up in life, but he chose to stick to what he believed in. Being driven and determined helped him become a succesful politician.

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Issue 83


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