NOMBUYISELO NGELE is an ANC Member of Parliament who was born in the outskirts of Umtata in the Eastern Cape. She is a constituency member for Soshanguve where she also lives. This 80-year-old Member is known for being passionate about her community, especially working with the Gogos (grandmothers in Zulu) in the area.
Political Background: I became involved in politics in the early 1970's, when I was recruited by Rev Smangaliso Mkhatshwa to join the ANC. During this time, I also worked in the United States for the United States Embassy. In 1986, I was detained and imprisoned for almost six months because of my political activities with the ANC. I was fortunate because it would have gone on for longer, but the US Embassy intervened.
In 1995, after many years serving as a loyal member of the ANC, I became a counsellor, and in 1996 I became mayor of what used to be called Pretoria. The term of a mayor was 1 year, but I did four years until 2000. Then, in 2004, after years of dedication as a mayor, I was nominated to become a Member of Parliament by the people in my area that recognised the work I was doing for the community. I was always a leader in my community. While the ANC was banned, I was the leader in a woman's organisation. That was one of the reasons I was detained.
Now, as a Member of Parliament, I am able to meet new people and work with communities. I tell them what we're doing because they don't know what we are doing most of the time. It is our responsibility to go back to them - they who have nominated us - and, to update them about what is happening. I really like working with the community. My speciality is elderly people - working with Gogos!
Currently, I serve on the Transport Portfolio Committee and the Mineral Resources Portfolio Committee. Previously, I was with the Housing and Education Portfolio Committees.
Highlights of my constituency work: I am from Tshwane and my constituency is in Shosanguve, which is the township where I live. I also share a Parliamentary Constituency Office with Deputy Presidency Kgalema Motlanthe. He is there as a Member of Parliament, not as a Deputy President. Currently, one of the highlights of my work is that we are tackling the problem of the community members smoking “nyaope”, a drug similar to dagga/cannabis. This is rife in Soshanguve.
Highlights of Parliament: One of the advantages is that you get to know more about the people and you get to do a lot of work for communities. We also do study tours to places like Australia and China, where we are able to learn about what more we can do for our people. The weaknesses have to do with the job itself as we are doing work that is very strenuous. We start at 9:30am, then at 2pm we have to go off to another meeting. After that, we normally have a study group and our days sometimes end at 8pm.
I am passionate about working with elderly people. We have the tendency to forget them but the government is hands-on and we are ensuring that they are getting their pension. But, it does not end there. These people are very lonely - they stay alone with grandchildren. I love working with them. That is where my heart is. If I had money I would build something for them and stay with them.
My message is that it is not about money. You must do anything you can for the people. If god has given you anything, any skill, you should use it and dedicate yourself to helping those in need. It is not always about how much education and money you have, it is about dedicating yourself to someone or somebody who needs your help. Let everyone share whatever you have.