Zuki Mqolomba

Zuki Mqolomba is a scholar-activist, researcher, policy analyst and, it seems, a born leader. She believes that one of the challenges facing South African youth is the “crisis in leadership and the brokenness of South Africa’s social imagination”, something she has aimed to address in her work and career.

While studying for her master’s degree at the University of Cape Town she won the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for most outstanding student leader for her record of service at the university. She was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, which she used to further her research into various aspects of international relations.

She has a passion for thought leadership and international youth development and has been involved in a number of international consultative forums, such as Unesco, Nato, the African Union (AU), Nepad and The Elders) giving representation to the power of youth agency in responding to the challenges of youth poverty and unemployment in Africa. This is an issue she sees as one of the biggest challenges facing the continent: “Our inability to respond decisively to the narratives of yesteryear lends itself to alarming levels of youth poverty and unemployment: eating away at youth dreams, stealing our tomorrows.”

Mqolomba participated in the AU Consultative Forum that developed a 10-year Action Plan for Youth Development in Africa and also formed part of the 2010 Young Atlanticist Summit, which connected emerging leaders to discuss Nato’s strategy and other pressing issues around global security; she affirmed the centrality of multi- plurality in international politics and defended the right of Afghanistan to determine its own destiny.

She currently works for McKinsey & Co and writes for The Thinker as well as the Mail & Guardian’s Thought Leader, and she mentors young learners as part of the Helen Suzman Foundation mentorship programme.

— Lisa van Wyk