Johannesburg - The DA’s former youth leader Mbali Ntuli has been honoured as one of five young leaders in One Young World’s annual ‘Politician of the Year’ awards.
Ntuli, who is a member of the provincial legislature in KwaZulu-Natal and the party’s spokesperson co-operative governance and traditional affairs in the province, was announced as one of the winners on Thursday.
The organisation, One Young World, said it was responsible for promoting young leaders around the world in an environment where under 2% of young people under the age of 35 were represented in the various parliaments around the world.
Speaking to Independent Media on Thursday, Ntuli said she was honoured and pleasantly surprised to scoop the coveted award.
“To win is insanely beyond my comprehension at this moment,” she said. “I’m thrilled, I can’t believe I won, there were really great nominees, and I see the other nominee that won is the president of Venezuela (depending on which side of the conflict you are on). It’s really great to be a winner amongst such insanely talented and great people,” she said.
The other young leaders who were bestowed with the honour, were Thórdís Kolbrún Gylfadóttir of Iceland, who is an MP and a lawyer, Hervé Berville of France, a member of the French National Assembly, Juan Guaidó of Venezuela, who is recognised by 50 governments as the country’s legitimate president, and Magid Magid of the United Kingdom, who is a British-Somali activist and politician.
The winners were chosen by a panel of international judges which comprised former DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, Jan Peter Balkenende, the former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mo Ibrahim, the chair and founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Ilia Calderon, Co-anchor of Noticiero Univision, former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson and Tawakkol Karman, the president of Women Journalists Without Chains organisation and Nobel Peace Laureate 2011.
The One Young World organization said the winners all fought for the best interests of young people in their communities, and were fostering youth participation in politics.
Ntuli said her ultimate ambition was for her to govern South Africa.
“I would like to one day get to a place where we are in government, where I can put some of the good ideas that I have into strategies that can be implemented. The role of the opposition is important, but ultimately we want to get in government and do some good work for the people,” she said.
In the previous administration, Ntuli had been involved with the education portfolio and was also the DA KZN's election head. But she is now in a different space as the DA’s voice in KZN on matters relating to co-operative governance and traditional affairs.
“In terms of traditional affairs it’s going to be interesting because it is not usual for a female in opposition to be in that role, and I certainly have some strong views about what we can be doing when it comes to izinduna and amakhosi.
“General governance and fiscal stability of our municipalities is going to the other big challenge, we have a big challenge in this province because we are losing lots of money because of our population is moving to Johannesburg and other places," she said.
Ella Robertson, the managing director of One Young World said a lack of representation for young people in parliaments around the world posed the risk of leaving the majority of the global population discontent and disconnected and detached from formal political processes.
“At One Young World, we want to celebrate outstanding leadership and highlight the young leaders throughout the world who are already contributing to their communities and countries. We look forward to honouring the winners at the One Young World Summit this year in London,” she said.
Mo Ibrahim, the chairperson and Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation said young people were not for the future, but for the immediate present.
“We need to highlight and celebrate those who dare to step out to build their own prospects and embrace ownership, responsibility and accountability, whether at local, national or global level,” he said.
Mazibuko said the award gave recognition to young leaders in politics.
“The next generation need to see that they can make a difference in their communities, and this shortlist of young politicians are the ideal role models,” she said
On her advice to young activists, Ntuli said they should carry on fighting for the voiceless and down-trodden.
“They should try and get into the political party of their choice, and even if that’s not the route they would want to take, they need to keep fighting for the rights of people who have no voices, because you never know who is watching.
“I didn’t think anyone was paying attention to the stuff I do, but now I have been nominated and I have won something, so I would encourage them to keep going, even if they are making a difference to one person’s life,” she said.