By: Mo Senne
Ofentse Kombe is a 32 year-old male from a township in the North West province called Boitekong. He declares that he is community developer before he is “a so-called politician.” Kombe found his interest in politics from growing up in a politically conscious family that was active in community development initiatives, politics, and general activism. He is also an alumni of YALI, Mandela Washington Fellowship, and ACTIVATE! Change Drivers. Contemporarily, Kombe is PR Councilor deployed by Botho Community Movement in the Rustenburg local municipality holding a Local Economic Development (LED) portfolio. He’s on the brink of completing his Public Administration degree through UNISA.
According to Kombe, politics have become a barrier to development and he saw it fit to occupy the space albeit he did not think he inevitably would. He states: “You learn the hard way that you cannot divorce politics from development; they go hand-in-hand.” Interestingly, he did not want to become part of any political formation and so his name was put forward as an independent candidate for his Ward in 2011. Albeit he did not win the Ward then, they registered Botho Community Movement in 2015 as a political party and it is now the vehicle which they use to run for the local government elections in Rustenburg. It is imperative to note that this political party garnered 1 seat in the 2016 local government elections – a significant turn of events!
In reference to his civil society affiliations, Kombe says he was introduced to ACTIVATE! by Tiisang Matsobe and Louisa Thwesha who are also Activators. Kombe had this to say about the network:
“ACTIVATE has built a network where you are able to link with other likeminded people and organisations in so far as addressing the challenges faced by society from a young person’s perspective. This is not to say we discard whatever else the elders have taught us, but ACTIVATE has also given one confidence and hope to say there are several capacitated young people who can engage robustly without getting personal, and in a manner that ultimately builds you.”
There’s a saying which suggests that you must never be the smartest person in the room because then you are in the wrong room. Kombe can attest to this as he states that through the network, he has learnt that “you are never the smartest person in the room.” According to him, that is where the greatest value of ACTIVATE lies and how it has impacted his networking.
In future, Kombe sees himself continuing to make an impact where policy-making and policy-shaping are concerned, in or out of council. He wants to see himself being part of the African Union, engaging with other young people on policies which will not only advance his own country but Africa as a continent. One thing Kombe does not see, however, is venturing into corporate because his passion is changing communities and society in a positive and sustainable manner.
Question: What are your comments on the upcoming local government elections?
Because of the circumstances that South Africa finds itself under, Kombe believes that these elections are going to be historic. These circumstances are not limited to COVID-19, but include the emergence of other political parties and more independent candidates.�� Kombe foresees a different picture in the South African political landscape – he makes an example of how he does not think the ANC will perform any better than it did in 2016. In addition, it is his belief that several municipalities will be coalition governed.
In conclusion he urges all eligible voters to register and exercise their right to vote. He further cautions voters (and everyone else) to refrain from bloodshed during all processes until and after elections on the 1st of November.