But behind the political persona lies a “ruralitarian”, a family man, a courageous politician and an advocate for good, clean governance and education.
Like many young boys growing up in rural South Africa, Zwakele Mncwango, originally from KwaNongoma, herded livestock during his formative years - something he says shaped his character.
“When you are out in the field you understand that life doesn’t revolve around you. You learn resilience, patience, problem-solving skills, survival skills, strategic skills and most of all to remain humble,” he said.
Mncwango has survived political opponents, solved problems as a leader and is believed to possess the patience and strategic thinking to grow the DA in KZN amid tough competition.
Political leaders must have the skill to build a programme of policies that is linked to their party’s values while appealing to the widest possible section of the electorate.
Mncwango realises that it is the rural voter who will make a huge difference in next year’s election.
This is the reason the DA visited King Goodwill Zwelithini for the first time last weekend.
Mncwango said this was a bold step.
He said he came from humble beginnings.
“My father was a polygamist, he had 18 children. It wasn’t until my brother saw potential in me and paid for me to attend a boarding school that I was able to see life beyond the village, and dream big” he said.
Now a father of three children, he said he had no intention of having more children as he knows first-hand how that could present challenges in providing adequately for each child.
“I don’t live with my children, but I see them all the time. I speak to them every day. We enjoy going to the beach, travelling, and I love playing with them at home. My girls are 11 and 4 and my son is five months old,” Mncwango said.
And when he is not executing his watchdog duties as an Exco member in the eThekwini council or spending time with his children, you can find him at his home reading, at maskandi music festivals or chilling at a shisa nyama with his friends.
“When I was younger I would go out clubbing with my friends all night, but now I have bigger responsibilities, to my family, the people who entrusted me with leading the DA and many other young people who look up to me,” he said.
Mncwango hopes that the next generation of politicians in South Africa is empowered through education.
“It’s easy to say you want power, but what happens when you have not equipped yourself with education?
“These are people entrusted with making crucial decisions for the country, so we need them educated.”
Coming from a man who is pursuing a PhD, with an MBA and electrical engineering degree already in the bag, it’s clear he knows exactly what that means.
Speaking of the future, Mncwango said: “I want to use my knowledge to make positive changes that will strengthen democracy and government to bring meaningful changes to the people.”