Zukiswa Mqolomba

Director of social insurance schemes, department of social development

Zukiswa Mqolomba sees her destiny intrinsically tied to removing the chains from Africa’s citizens, particularly the unemployed and the poor.

As the director of social insurance schemes at the department of social development, Mqolomba is a senior researcher, policy analyst and, by her own admission, a scholar activist.

A political economist by training, Mqolomba was a recipient of a Mandela Rhodes scholarship and a Chevening scholarship. She has master’s degrees from UCT and the University of Sussex, and is currently pursuing her PhD through UCT.

Just 31, Mqolomba has worked in a number of prestigious organisations, including the World Bank in Washington DC as an extended-term consultant, the department of public enterprises as director for economic research and writing, McKinsey & Co as a consultant, and the department of labour as assistant director for research, policy and planning.

Mqolomba is deeply intrigued by research and policy analysis, public policy research, the National Development Plan, the New Growth Plan and the Industrial Policy Action Plan.

In 2012 she co-founded the International Forum for Africa’s Development, an informal network of young African intellectuals in the diaspora designed to provide new thinking on 21st-century development paradigms for Africa, considering issues such as conflict, human (in)security, democracy and good governance. The organisation started with just two individuals, and has now grown to 30 associates.

“I want to live in an Africa that is free of poverty and unemployment, a continent that can take care of the material needs of its people,” says Mqolomba.

“But the challenges are great. There is insufficient funding to provide social insurance and social assurance for all South Africans. We have a limited tax base. We can only provide social security for the absolutely poor, the elderly, orphans and children. This means we need to be innovative in devising funding arrangements and delivery for those in need.” — Linda Doke