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By Marizka Coetzer


Tshwane deputy mayor Nasiphi Moya says she is here to serve

Nasiphi Moya's journey from rural upbringing to deputy mayor highlights resilience, determination, and self-discovery.

Growing up in a rural village in the Eastern Cape, Nasiphi Moya learned early in life to accept the gifts you are given… and one of those was her journey out of poverty.

Now, as ActionSA deputy mayor of the City of Tshwane with a doctorate in political studies to her name, she can look back with gratitude at her life.

ALSO READ: Tshwane’s new deputy mayor ‘filled with immense gratitude and honour’

Moya grew up in Mpikwana, Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape before moving to Cape Town at the age of 15.

“I was very happy growing up, saying I grew up poor would be an insult to my family’s efforts. My parents did the best they could. I didn’t know of their struggles at the time.”

Accept whatever gift is given

Moya was the fifth girl in the family of six children. “My father and mother hoped I would be a boy and then I was born a girl.

“My mom and my aunt went to see an old lady who wanted to know the names of the babies. When my mother told her that I hadn’t been named yet the old lady said ‘whatever gift you are given, you must accept it, Nasiphi’.”

Moya said growing up, she hated combing her hair. “My father took me to town to get my hair cut, but we did not calculate this one and I went to school looking like a boy,” she said.

Moya said she also went to school in an old school uniform.

“My sister didn’t pass down her old clothes to me. We shared a school uniform and mixed and matched,” she explained. At school, she realised she was different.

“Suddenly I had to fit in and for the first time, I was lost. Who were going to be my friends? Growing up I looked after livestock and I was used to spending time with boys,” she said.

Moya said she found her place when her first test results made her the top pupil in her grade.

“I was going to be the cleverest there. I was the top pupil three years in a row and attended the University of Cape Town (UCT) after matriculating.”

ALSO READ: EFF walks out of council meeting as City of Tshwane gets new deputy mayor

Moya initially wanted to become an economist and not a politician.

“I applied but didn’t get in because my maths wasn’t that good. I met a lady who told me to change to social sciences and pass and next year I could change.

“I took intro to philosophy and intro to politics. I fell in love with politics in the first lecture,” she said.

Moya said she was told that in politics there was no right or wrong; the strength of one’s argument determines what is right.

“That was the moment I fell in love with politics,” she said. Moya spent most of her time in the library.

“From encyclopedias to textbooks. I couldn’t believe there was so much information. Where I come from libraries didn’t exist. I did not know about the existence of a library until I walked into UCT as an 18 year old,” she said.

Moya is no stranger to doing the necessary and unpopular thing for the greater good.

“You can’t build organisations on whether people will agree with me or not. When we build organisations, it’s long-term. You don’t build institutions for yourself, you build them for the future,” she said.

Moya worked as group head of the Tshwane chief whip’s office and was assigned to reviewing structures in the office.

“I was the loneliest person in this place for four months. They called me a little girl,” she said.

It seemed to Moya that she always had the task of doing the necessary, but unpopular, thing. “I have never been a popular person,” she added.

The R10 000

Her appointment as the deputy mayor in January became tumultuous when the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) accused her of fraud, alleging she stole R10 000 four years ago when she was chief of staff to the mayor.

The amount was for an official trip that she did not go on and she subsequently returned the money.

Moya said: “The EFF wouldn’t understand how much this has been a blessing for me. I redefined myself around that.

“I said to my sister, if my ancestors could not protect me from R10 000, how much worse can it be, if this was not malicious or intentional? I had no control over it,” she said.

ALSO READ: Deputy mayor pays back R10k for trip

Moya said her plan for the city was simple; “Gone are the days where governance is just about paper-based policies.

“Our policies must have a human face because those are the people we serve. We, as the city, serve people. We must always put a human face on our politics.”

Moya said her identity was most important to her.

“I never want people to confuse me with anybody. Nasiphi is who I am. “My anchor is always the village life. My roots are in the village; hence I go there often.”

Moya said when she graduated she went back to the village to tell the elders about her masters in philosophy from the University of Cape Town and PhD in political science.

“We had to explain to them what a PhD in politics is. It was hard to explain. Now they call me the doctor who is not a doctor in the village.”

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