THE Buffalo City Council has appointed Zukisa Faku as the Executive Mayor of Buffalo City Municipality.
With years as a teacher and a political activist under her belt, Buffalo City’s new executive mayor,Faku, is ready and able to lead the municipality.
Faku is no stranger to leadership. She has been involved in politics since her school days, and then throughout her working life as a teacher and leader.
Born in the Tsolo area of Duncan Village in East London in 1965, Faku was only five years old when her family was relocated to Mdantsane, some 25 kilometres from the city centre, under the notorious apartheid policy of forced removals.
She started her schooling in Zamani Lower Primary School, moving to Philani Higher Primary School, and eventually matriculating at Wongalethu High School, all in Mdantsane. She obtained a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Cape Town in 1990, and a higher diploma in education the following year.
Faku started her teaching career at Jongilanga High School in Newlands near East London in 1992, moving to Mzomhle High School in Mdantsane in 1993, where she remained until 2000.
Her political career, however, is longer than her professional career, as she was introduced to politics in high school in the early 1980s. Her political acumen, commitment and enthusiasm led to her being elected to the regional executive committee of the Congress of South African Students in 1982; she was later deployed to represent the student body in the United Democratic Front.
At university she was a member of the South African National Students’ Congress. As a teacher, she held leadership positions in the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union, the ANC and the SACP.
Detained several times by the then Ciskei and South African security agents in the early 1980s, Faku's most traumatic experience was being arrested as she celebrated her 18th birthday - and then spending six months in solitary confinement.
In 1995, the ANC deployed her to the old East London Transitional Local Council as a member of the executive committee and, in 2000, she became the first Speaker of the Buffalo City council. In 2006, she was sent to the Amathole District Municipality and in January 2009 returned to Buffalo City as the first citizen.
As a long-standing local government practitioner, Faku has experienced the frustrations and the joys of transformation in local government. Her biggest concern is the rate of school dropouts brought about by poverty and a ruthless economic climate, and so she is advocating for free education to be raised to tertiary level.