Senzo Mchunu is one of the big names in South African politics today particularly when it concerns the affairs of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). The politician has seen himself rise from being a teacher in the late 80s to holding the office of Premier of KwaZulu-Natal in the early 2010s. He has since gotten close to attaining the position of Secretary-General of his party before he was appointed to serve as the Minister of Public Service and Administration under President Cyril Ramaphosa on the 30th of May 1999.
Born Edward Senzo Mchunu on the 1st of April 1958 – in the area of Hlabisa in northern KwaZulu Natal, South Africa – he is one of four children parented by Elliot Dela Nyawozekewu Mchunu and Hambaphi Mchunu.
He began his education at iNhlwathi Primary School before moving to Mbopha Secondary School in KwaHlabisa for his secondary education. He is also said to have spent time in Amakholwa High School. For his tertiary education, he attended the University of Zululand and the University of South Africa where he received a Secondary Teachers’ Diploma and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Education and International Relations respectively.
Senzo Mchunu Was A Teacher Before He Became A Politician
Before venturing into South African politics, Senzo Mchunu gathered valuable teaching experience at St. Augustine’s High School in Nquthu, as well at Impande High School in Nkangala between 1985 to 1991 when he resigned. The career switch, while not the most difficult of they all, necessitated an extra academic qualification for Mchunu.
In 2002, the former teacher made a return to school when he enrolled at the University of Free State to run a two-year Masters program in Political Transformation.
A Walk Through His Political Journey
Following his resignation from the noble profession, Mchunu joined the African National Congress (ANC) and became a full-time politician in 1991. His first political appointment was as a scribe of the Regional Interim Committee of the party in Northern Natal. The following year, he became the area’s first Regional Secretary, a position he would continue to hold until the merger of the Zulu Bantustan of KwaZulu and Natal Province when he then became the first provincial secretary of the party in the province.
In 1997, Mchunu was elected the Regional Deputy Secretary of the ANC. In the same year, he was elected into the Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) legislative house where he was made the chairman of the Agriculture Portfolio Committee from 1998 to 2002, and Chairman of the Social Development Portfolio Committee from 2002 to 2004. His next position was as Chairperson of the Education Portfolio Committee from 2004 to 2009.
In 2009, Senzo Mchunu was made a Member of the Executive Council for the Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal. He maintained a seat in the MEC until 2013 when he became the Provincial Chairperson of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal and then the acting Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Province. He would go-ahead to officially hold the position until May 2016 when he resigned.
Even though he resigned, it was revealed that the KwaZulu-Natal premier never did so resigned voluntarily. The pressure to put in his resignation from his position was induced by the national working committee of his party after various allegations that were not made public were leveled against him. These allegations were later speculated in the media to concern the increase of the number of staff in his office by around 200 and meddling in the activities of some members of the executive councils.
Under the present administration of Cyril Ramaphosa, Mchunu serves as Minister of Public Service and Administration, an office he assumed on 30th May 1999. Since assuming the office, the minister has worked with the public and civil service to ensure the smooth running of government.
What We Know About His Remunerations As A Politician
While serving as the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Senzo Mchunu took home an annual salary of R2.08 million. In 2016, the legislature of the province pushed to give the premier a 5% increase in his annual salary which would have put his earnings at R2.1 million. The ANC, however, called for its members to refuse salary increases as they tried to tackle the economic situation in the country.
In his current position as Minister of Public Service and Administration, Mchunu is believed to take him just over R2.4 million, which is the annual salary of President Ramaphosa’s cabinet ministers.
NB: These salaries come with other perks that include official vehicles, accommodation, and travel among other out-of-pocket expenses.
Senzo Mchunu Is Also Married To A Former Teacher And Politician
In July 1990, after having dated for a five year period, Senzo Mchunu married his wife Thembeka who he had known ever since she was 16. As the story goes, their relationship started off from them being friends before evolving into a romance, a fact that Thembeka says would ensure their love would never die.
Like her husband, Thembeka Mchunu was a teacher before she became a politician and is also a member of the country’s ruling party, ANC. The Umbumbulu College of Education graduate is a former district municipality mayor of uThungulu in Kwazulu-Natal. She has held several political positions in several committees and has also been a member of the National Assembly since May 22nd, 2019.
She was born Thembeka Vuyisile Buyisile Mchunu to her parents – Joshua and Thenjiwe – in Ixopo, Carisbrooke on the 31st of January 1968 but she was mostly raised by her grandparents, alongside her younger brother, Thabo Mofokeng. Her parents went through a divorce when she was very young – aged five – which necessitated the move to her paternal grandparents’ house. Thembeka initially began her primary education at Ixopo (Carisbrooke Primary School) before continuing at Laduma High School, Pietermaritzburg after moving to stay with her mother.
Together, the couple has four children – two boys and two girls – named Zinhle, Mathuthu, Jama, and Phakade. All the kids are all grown-ups with their first child, Zinhle, working as a sister-nurse. Information about their other children and what they are up to at the moment is not known.