MEC Khawula is looking to unearth sports stars in KZN

The IFP’s Mntomuhle Khawula is sworn in by Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati. | DOCTOR NGCOBO Independent Newspapers

The IFP’s Mntomuhle Khawula is sworn in by Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati. | DOCTOR NGCOBO Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 24, 2024


Durban — When Mntomuhle Khawula was sworn-in as a member of the provincial legislature (MPL) last week, he had no idea that within days he would be elevated to the position of member of the executive council (MEC) under the leadership of Premier Thami Ntuli.

Khawula was appointed MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture last week.

He last occupied an executive role in public office as Ugu District mayor on the South Coast, a position he vacated when the ANC seized control of the district from the IFP through the floor-crossing legislation in 2005. Khawula was effectively born in the IFP and has served the party in various capacities, including as the national chairperson of the IFP Youth Brigade.

Over the years he has been deployed to the National Assembly, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, serving the party in several portfolios.

“In fact, there was a time when I was the only IFP representative in the NCOP and had to make input in all the committee discussions. I had to do a lot of reading and go through different documents, which means I have a pretty good idea of what is going on in many portfolios and some of the changes that have been made.”

Khawula believes it is this kind of experience that will come in handy in his new portfolio, which he says does not get the recognition it deserves, especially in the budget allocation.

“I used to contend with former ministers Fikile Mbalula and Nathi Mthethwa that this was a Cinderella department where most things are not taken as seriously as they should, and this is something I would like to change during my term,” he said.

Khawula said he faced a mammoth task, acknowledging the importance of the role to be played by officials and the portfolio committee.

“What counts in my favour is my love for sports generally, from soccer to athletics, so I will not be a fish out of water. What will be important over the next few weeks and months is to get a thorough briefing from the officials so that we map a way forward for the next five years,” he said.

Khawula believes KZN is booming with talent in many sporting codes and stressed that one of the department’s goals will be to unearth and develop sports stars.

“I am but a part of team led by Premier Ntuli and my duty is to be of service to the people of KZN, not my area or district, but the entire province,” Khawula said.

One of his challenges will be to ensure that the talent identified in schools is properly guided, so his department will need to work closely with the Department of Education.

Sunday Tribune