Meet mover and shaker Itumeleng Mpofu

10 March 2017 | Story Chido Mbambe. Photo Supplied.
​​​​​​​Itumeleng Mpofu, third-year politics, philosophy and economics student, made top six on One Day Leader SA season five.
​​​​​​​Itumeleng Mpofu, third-year politics, philosophy and economics student, made top six on One Day Leader SA season five.

One Day Leader SA is a leadership and debate reality show that airs on SABC1 every Monday at 16:30. In the vigorous selection process, Itumeleng Mpofu, a third-year politics, philosophy and economics student, worked his way from the top 500 all the way up to the top six.

Mpofu is an optimistic young leader who was born in the township of Evaton North on the outskirts of Johannesburg. After matriculating from Qedilizwe Secondary School, he enrolled at the University of Cape Town in 2015.

“I came to UCT because it is the best in Africa. I believe that it attracts great minds, and my aim has always been to interact with great minds in order to find solutions to South Africa's problems,” says Mpofu.

Since being at UCT, he has served as chair of the Student Residence Council and head student of Kopano Residence in 2016. He has also served as the rotating chair of the Residence Forum.

Mpofu enjoys the fact that he gets to interact with students from different parts of the world on a daily basis.

“These are people who are intellectually equipped, and I believe that you will never find such in any other university ranking below UCT,” he says.

Aside from his leadership on campus, Mpofu is the youth charity ambassador for Lanxi municipality in China.

“We organise home-stay projects in China, inviting young leaders across the world to discuss issues of humanity.”

He is also vice-chair of the Organisation of African Youth in the Western Cape, and a member of the Peace Revolution movement under the banner of the United Nations.

A vision of South Africa

Mpofu aspires to become the president of South Africa.

“I believe that the president should be somebody who understands the theories of politics and philosophy. Most importantly, the president should understand how the economy operates,” he says.

He is greatly inspired by former president Thabo Mbeki. He is driven by any activity that empowers young people to be better leaders of tomorrow.

Mpofu's vision entails a South Africa where its citizens are liberated psychologically and economically, a South Africa of radical economic transformation to address injustices of the past and to alleviate poverty. He imagines a South Africa where the government provides exceptional services to empower the people of Alexandra, Evaton, Khayelitsha and other South African townships.

One Day Leader SA

Mpofu is currently a contestant on One Day Leader SA, a debate and leadership reality show that airs on SABC1 until 1 May.

“As part of the application, we had to give immediately implementable solutions towards Fees Must Fall. My contributions were considered exceptional and therefore submitted to the Fees Commission for consideration,” explains Mpofu. (Watch episode 5 of One Day Leader SA...)

He beat over 25 000 applications and made it to the top 20 earlier this year, where he was invited for the audition debate in Johannesburg. This was where he made the top six of season five.

One Day Leader SA has forced him to work with people from impoverished communities, enabling him to understand the harsh realities that poor South Africans are facing.

“Winning the competition means that I will be able to interact with many more great minds that are already in the field of politics,” says Mpofu.

He aims to encourage youth development in communities with the work he does.

“I want to inspire young people to take part in leadership and ultimately inspire others. I believe that if you want change, you have to be the change that you want to see. I will inspire young people to create the change,” says Mpofu.

His biggest challenge since entering the competition has been balancing his academics, leadership work and time with family.

Social entrepreneur

In 2012 Mpofu co-founded Solar Pioneers, an NGO which educates impoverished communities on the use of solar energy. They created a wooden solar panel, which caters for members of the community at reduced costs.

They installed a PV solar module at Wilberforce Community College in Evaton North to power the college and its computer lab. Solar Pioneers also offered classes at Wilberforce where they taught Grade 10, 11 and 12 learners who struggle with mathematics, science and economics.

“For the first time, schools around the community were able to produce students who went to study abroad in Turkey, USA, Cuba and many other countries,” says Mpofu.

In 2016 Mpofu started another organisation, Lesedi Solar Solutions. It is currently in its pioneering phase, bringing knowledge on solar energy to Khayelitsha, Gugulethu and other townships in Cape Town. The second phase will be the installation in order to provide jobs and electricity to impoverished communities.

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