Mr Andrek Panyaza Lesufi, commonly known as Panyaza Lesufi, was Acting Director General of the Department of Basic Education and Special Advisor to the Minister of Basic Education before his appointment as MEC for Education in Gauteng. He also co-chaired the Forum of South African Directors General’s Human Development Sub-committee.
Mr Lesufi started his political activism as a student in Tembisa in the early 1980s, which saw him serving in various education committees of the then banned South African Student Congress (SASCO), such as the then Tembisa Student Congress, the East Rand Student Congress, the Transvaal Student Congress and the National Education Coordinating Committee, which led to his expulsion from the Boitumelong Senior Secondary School in Tembisa. He was also instrumental in the establishment of youth structures under the banner of the then banned South African Youth Congress
Mr Lesufi derives great satisfaction from establishing new institutions and was a founding Deputy Director General (DDG) of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), as well as the public face for the founding of the National Priority Crimes Prevention Unit, commonly known as the Hawks.
He is a seasoned government communicator and was spokesperson for various government departments, namely the Ministry of Basic Education, the Ministry of Police, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) (commonly referred to as the Scorpions), the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) and the Gauteng Department of Social Development. He was recently honoured by the University of North West and the National Press Club as South Africa’s Best Media Liaison Person.
Mr Lesufi is an activist who rose through the ranks of both student and youth movements before leading students as President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at the University of Natal, Durban Campus (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal), while studying for a Bachelor of Business Degree in Administration.
At the University of Natal he served on the university’s highest decisionmaking body, the University Council, as well as in the University Senate and in the University’s Executive Committee. Mr Lesufi was Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper, and also founder of Dome Youth Radio (now Durban Youth Radio). He received his radio training at the then Capitol Radio in Durban and played an instrumental role in media politics via the South African Student Press Union (SASPU).
Mr Lesufi was a political prisoner, arrested in terms of the 1988 State of Emergency Regulations, and he served time in the Modderbee Prison. He served in the underground structures of Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK), as well as in the Self-Defence Units (SDUs) and other youth and student formations, which were banned at the time.
Mr Lesufi also worked within the NGO sector as Outreach Manager of the Tembisa Careers Centre, in community structures, such as the Community Policing Forum (CPF), as Secretary of SASCO and the South African Tertiary Institutions Sports Congress (SATISCO-Durban), and as Chairperson of the Creative Arts Society (CASOC).
He is a recipient of the University of Natal‘s Chief Albert Luthuli Award, presented to him by former President, Thabo Mbeki. The university furthermore bestowed on him the Best SRC President Ever Award in recognition of his leadership qualities.
Mr Lesufi served on the Board of the Ellis Park Disaster Fund, as well as Chairperson of the Board of the Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership. He also served for three terms as Branch Secretary of the then ANC Tembisa Branch, before becoming Deputy Regional Secretary of the then ANC Khayalami Region, a position he held for almost nine years, and founding Deputy Regional Secretary of the ANC Ekurhuleni Region.
He has been a member of the Provincial Executive Committee since 2007, and attended almost all National Conferences and Policy Conferences of the ruling party. He serves in the National Communications Forum, as well as on various ANC sub-committees.
Mr Lesufi is the Founding Leader of the Association of Senior Managers of the State (ASMOS) – a body that coordinates the affairs of senior managers in government.
He is currently studying towards a Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree.