“I FELT IT WAS WRONG AND I DECIDED TO RISE AGAINST IT”
Written by: Fundiswa Zungu
Bheki “Mphemba” Ntuli (60) is the longest serving regional chairperson of the ANC. He is currently serving the provincial government as the Chairperson of Security Liaison Portfolio Committee.
“I was raised by poor parents in a rural area, and lived there until I had to go back to school. I had to take care of my younger brothers because my parents were too old to do so. As much as my sisters were older than I was, I also had to take care of them because I was the oldest son,” states Mphemba.
Mphemba had to leave his family to complete his high school studies at Shayina High School in Manguzi. He would visit the farm that his parents worked on and would work there as well. He also would give medical attention to the injured farm employees and handle the farm’s administrative work.
After training as a Mkhonto Wesizwe soldier in exile, Mphemba decided to return to his home to complete his tertiary education. He studied and qualified as an english and history teacher at Madadeni College of Education in Newcastle. He started teaching at Manqamu High School and later resigned due to his numerous arrests.
His soccer skills secured him a job as shop steward at Alusaf, a company based in Richards Bay. He decided to continue with his studies in 1996 at the University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business. He studied for a year and obtained his certificate in Management, Strategy and Leadership. After his studies Mphemba decided to go back to Alusaf and continue to work there.
According to Mphemba, being in politics had never crossed his mind. However, when he became a politician he had no regrets. He has been in politics since 1976. During that time he had to learn Agriculture in Afrikaans.
“I felt it was wrong and I decided to rise against it,” says Mphemba.
Mphemba says that being in politics is a tough career, especially when you are a family person.
“I do fear that something might happen to my family. Sometimes you build a house and put burglar guards without thinking about the risks, what if a fire breaks out or what if I don’t put the burglar guards and someone breaks in. It is worse now because you fear people within your organization. However, you must never subject to fear,” he adds.
His family’s death serves as his motivation, after they were murdered at his home. Mphemba believes that they died for a reason.
“If you are given a position, your behaviour must change because you need to protect yourself, the name you’ve built and your organisation,” says Mphemba.
He believes that the youth will lead South Africa into democracy. However, he questions how that will happen when the youth does not want to study.
“I treat studying like reading a newspaper, I always feel the need to study. If it happens that I lose my current job, it will be easy for me to get another job because of the numerous qualifications I have. At the moment I am studying Strategic Diplomacy; this qualification will enable me to negotiate for South Africa internationally,” he adds.
He decided to give back to the community of Nongoma by helping schools to obtain a better pass rate. Vuna High School and Kwa-Zwide High School had a reputation of getting a pass rate as low as 15%, and he decided to change that. Last year the schools obtained a pass rate between 75% and 76%.
“I met a young boy in Nquthu during elections. He told me that he is an orphan and had no money to further his studies. I am helping him pay for his studies and if he passes his matric well, he will go to Cuba for his tertiary education,” he adds.
Mphemba’s daughter, Andile Ntuli (21) a final year student at the International Hotel School, speaks fondly of her father.
“My father is a humble man that loves helping others,” she said.
Mphemba speaks about his dream for South Africa.
“I want to see every South African child go to school and that one day South Africa would come together to fight poverty. If businessmen and politicians would work together, South Africa would be a better country. I also hope that the government would build houses for poor communities and provide all of their needs,” says Mphemba.
Former colleague Thulani Zulu says that Mphemba taught him to be selfless and to work with every race.
“Mphemba is a true selfless leader who loves serving people. Working with Mphemba was both an interesting and challenging experience, but it taught me to always put other people before me,” Thulani adds.
*Caption: Bheki “Mphemba” Ntuli, politician, father and community activist.