Welkom-born Fezile Sonkwala has been nominated along with other 1000 young South Africans to serve on the board of National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
Sonkwala shared the news on his social media platforms on 18 May 2021 shortly after parliament issued a media release announcing that it was seeking public comments on nominees’ curriculum vitae’s ‘(CVs) which are currently available on parliament’s website. The Sub-Committee of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and the Select Committee on Health and Social Services invites the public and civil society to make comments on the candidates CVs by 5 June 2021.
There are currently nine (9) vacancies available on NYDA’s board and the application process to fill these vacancies was started afresh in April 2021 following public outcry about the initial process as it was alleged to have been in favour of those serving or closely linked to the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL). This was supported by a leaked letter from the league’s national task team addressed to ANC’s Deputy Secretary-General Jesse Duarte in which the league forwarded names of their preferred candidates who were all its members. Parliament then received legal opinion and resorted to start the whole process anew.
Sonkwala is no stranger to leadership and politics. He is an activist, author, columnist, educator, essayist, former student leader, government communicator, life-long learner, writer, and an opinionated critical thinker who mingles in political circles and is currently based in Bloemfontein. He holds a B. Ed (FET) Languages degree and a B.Tech Public Management degree from the Central University of Technology, Free State where he also served as the Academic Officer for the Students’ Representative Council in 2012/13.
He was the first undergraduate student to be invited as a Fellow for the Leaders in Education and Development (LEAD) programme at the CUT. He further holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Governance and Political Transformation from the University of the Free State (UFS) and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with the University of Zululand.
Sonkwala was a columnist for The Weekly Newspaper in the Free State and Northern Cape provinces from 2013-2015 and has also authored several newspaper columns for other newspapers. During his high school tenure he served as Chairperson for the Representative Council of Learners at Unitas Secondary School in Welkom. In 2015 he published his debut book titled Native Footprints which tackled socio-political issues facing young South Africans and the foreword of the book was by Professor Sipho Seepe, a leading political analyst in the country.
His leadership profile consists of being Spokesperson for the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA) in Free State and briefly serving on the Media Research Sub-committee of the African National Congress (ANC) in Free State. He has also held numerous leadership positions including serving as the Free State Chairperson and member of the National Executive Committee for the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) in his earlier days as a high school learner.
In 2016 he founded the Fezile Sonkwala Leadership Foundation (FSLF), a non-profit organisation that he uses as a vehicle to uplift his community. FSLF conducts programmes such as the annual Matjhabeng Book Fair, Youth Games, Leadership Conferences etc. At the age of 24, Sonkwala was appointed as the Assistant Director for Internal Communication and Speechwriting at the Free State Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation. In 2017 he was featured on a list of Top 50 Young Free State Game Changers by the Free State Legislature.
Asked why he accepted nomination, he commented that, “Our country is in a critical process of building itself anew, renewing its institutions and uniting all its citizens. This is a moment that needs all of us to play a part. It is time for young people to volunteer themselves and offer their skills and expertise as we build a nation that we want. I’m certainly available to serve my country should I be called to do so anywhere and at any time.”