The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - KHATHU MAMAILA

THE new Min­is­ter of Trans­port Joe Maswan­ganyi has em­braced char­ac­ter­is­tics of his po­lit­i­cal men­tor, the late Collins Cha­bane.

He is hum­ble, mod­est, accessible but un­wa­ver­ing in cham­pi­oning the right of the poor.

As I sat with him for an in­ter­view, his cell­phone kept on ring­ing and he kept on an­swer­ing it. One of the call­ers was a mem­ber of the public who was com­plain­ing that be­cause there was heavy traf­fic on the N1 south af­ter the long week­end, there were some mo­torists who were driv­ing on the in­com­ing lane, thus en­dan­ger­ing the lives of other mo­torists.

Maswan­ganyi po­litely told the caller that he would alert the MEC to send traf­fic of­fi­cers and thanked the caller for be­ing a good cit­i­zen.

“I grew up in a vil­lage. Re­spect for peo­ple, re­gard­less of their so­cial stand­ing, is sec­ond to na­ture. You also have to lis­ten to all peo­ple and of­fer help when you can. Some­times they help you – all you can of­fer is just to lis­ten. What­ever po­si­tions we may oc­cupy, we should re­main accessible to our peo­ple. Af­ter all, we got in­volved in the Strug­gle to serve the peo­ple and im­prove their lives,” says Maswan­ganyi.

Maswan­ganyi is a sea­soned po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist who served as deputy pres­i­dent of the ANC Youth League when Malusi Gi­gaba, the cur­rent fi­nance min­is­ter, was the leader of the young lions.

Maswan­ganyi was born in a vil­lage near Mala­mulele in Lim­popo on April 14 1966. His mother Diana had two chil­dren. His fa­ther, Solomon Gezani Maswan­ganyi had 11 chil­dren from his four wives.

“We were an or­di­nary vil­lage fam­ily that was trapped in poverty just like many oth­ers in the area. My mother was un­em­ployed and sup­ple­mented the fam­ily in­come by sell­ing home­brewed beer.

“Af­ter pass­ing ma­tric at Hlaluk­weni High School in 1986, I wanted to fur­ther my stud­ies at the Univer­sity of the North. How­ever, due to lack of funds, I had to look for a job.”

He spent 1987 work­ing as an un­qual­i­fied teacher at a lo­cal school. The fol­low­ing year, he reg­is­tered for a teach­ers’ di­ploma at Tivum­beni Col­lege out­side Tza­neen. The col­lege was a hive of po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties with po­lit­i­cal fire­brands such as Cas­sel Mathale, Di­a­mond Mush­wana and the late Der­rick Ma­suku.

“We were in the com­pany of sea­soned politi­cians from the UDF and Azapo. We never clashed although we dif­fered ide­o­log­i­cally. There was a gen­eral un­der­stand­ing that the ob­jec­tive was the same – which was to­tal lib­er­a­tion,” says Maswan­ganyi.

Af­ter qual­i­fy­ing as a teacher, Maswan­ganyi went back to his former high school and be­came a teacher.

Af­ter the un­ban­ning of the ANC, Maswan­ganyi was part of the youth lead­ers who were re­spon­si­ble for the re-launch of the ANC Youth League in Lim­popo. He worked closely with youth lead­ers such as Thabo Masebe and Rudzani Murovhi. Na­tion­ally, the youth lead­ers were led by Peter Mok­aba.

In 1994, Maswan­ganyi was the chair­per­son of the ANC Youth League in Lim­popo. In 1998, he was elected deputy pres­i­dent of the ANC Youth League.

He was elected to serve in the ANC pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee in 2001. He had been a mem­ber of the Lim­popo leg­is­la­ture since 1994 un­til 2008 when he was elected pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary.

He has served as MEC for Lo­cal Govern­ment and Hous­ing and as MEC for Sport, Arts and Cul­ture.

In June 2015, he was re­de­ployed to na­tional assem­bly as an MP and served in the trans­port port­fo­lio.

He was ap­pointed Trans­port Min­is­ter in March this year.

De­spite his ac­tive po­lit­i­cal life, Maswan­ganyi con­tin­ued to pur­sue his pas­sion – ed­u­ca­tion.

He has a BA de­gree from Unisa, ma­jor­ing in African Pol­i­tics and His­tory. He also holds a Masters De­gree in Gov­er­nance and Po­lit­i­cal Trans­for­ma­tion from the Univer­sity of Free State. He also has a Masters de­gree in Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence from Univer­sity of Venda. "As po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, I be­lieve that we are role mod­els to our young peo­ple. We should in­spire them to study and ex­cel in var­i­ous fields.

"Knowl­edge is a very im­por­tant com­mod­ity.

Coun­tries that are highly de­vel­oped, have suc­ceded be­cause they in­vested in knowl­edge econ­omy. We need skills and ed­u­ca­tion to re­spond to the chal­lenges fac­ing our coun­try.

We should al­ways have a quest for more knowl­edge."

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