Who is Chris Pappas? 6 things you need to know about DA KZN premier candidate

Here is what you need to know about Chris Pappas: 

The DA’s uMngeni mayor Chris Pappas has been nominated as the party’s premier candidate for KwaZulu-Natal in the 2024 elections.

The rising star was given the nod by the party’s leader John Steenhuisen, who described him as a dynamic young leader who walks the walk and has made the uMngeni Municipality “a shining beacon on the hill while the rest of KZN lies in ruin”.

Steenhuisen said the time had come to kick the ANC out of KZN and Pappas was the man to lead that mission and provide hope. The ANC had only provided misery, hunger, maladministration, and poverty, he claimed. 

Here is what you need to know about Pappas: 

Educational background

Pappas, fluent in both isiZulu and English, is one of the country’s youngest mayors and was the DA’s deputy provincial leader in KZN before being elected as mayor in uMngeni.

ALSO READ: ‘We don’t want leaders who are going to lie’: Pappas backed as DA’s KZN premier candidate

The 32-year-old was in the KZN capital city of Pietermaritzburg and started his political career as a member and later president of the student representative council at the University of Pretoria, where he studied town and regional planning.

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Pappas is a graduate of the DA Young Leaders Programme, where he honed his political skill as an eThekwini councillor. 

He was the DA KZN spokesperson on agriculture, before becoming the cooperative governance and traditional affairs spokesperson and the was the party’s campaign manager in KZN for the 2014 elections.

International recognition

Pappas received international recognition when TIME Magazine honoured him as one of 24 young leaders in the leadership category on the TIME100 Next list earlier this month. 

ALSO READ: uMngeni Mayor Chris Pappas makes TIME100 Next list

TIME commended his transformative impact on the uMngeni Municipality since taking office in November 2021.

His achievements include restoring the municipality’s fiscal balance, a feat not seen in more than a decade, and facilitating the integration of 175 new homes into the electricity grid.

First openly gay mayor

Pappas is the first openly gay mayor in South Africa. 

During Pride Month, he told media people should not let labels and society’s view of who they are define them.

READ MORE: uMngeni mayor Chris Pappas applies for premier job in DA

“There’s no need to limit yourself based on a fear that is actually irrational. Whatever you put your mind to, try and achieve it.

“Don’t let thoughts, prejudice, and bias limit you. Rather let your own failures and inability lead to your downfall and not the rest of society’s thoughts.”

Pappas’ leadership as mayor 

Under Pappas’ leadership, uMngeni was declared debt-free in less than a year into governance.

The first DA-run municipality managed to pay off a R10.4 million loan, making it debt-free.

“When we went to the polls in 2021, the DA promised the voters of uMngeni that should the DA be elected to government, the municipality would show the residents of uMngeni and the province of KZN the DA difference.

“Under the governance of mayor Chris Pappas and his team, the DA has managed to wipe off all debt created by the ANC. The savings of almost half a million can now be spent on service delivery for the residents of uMngeni,” said the party. 

Rescuing KZN

Steenhuisen said the beacon of light on the hill in uMngeni could be the light that leads to change throughout the entire province.

He said citizens needed to know the power in this election would be with the registered voters. 

“Change will only happen when those who complain about the sewage on the beaches, unemployment, corruption, and everything else that is wrong, register to vote.

“It is time for citizens to take the power into their own hands and vote on election day for change and for hope and for the only party that can kick out the ANC and keep the EFF out,” he said. 

READ MORE: uMngeni Municipality to probe inflated legal costs

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