The National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Defence (PCOD) has a new chairman: Somangamane Benjamin Ntuli. He replaces Fezile Bhengu who has been promoted to deputy minister of defence.
Ntuli has been a Member of Parliament and a member of the PCOD since 1999.
“This nomination was seconded by Dr Emanuel Schoeman (ANC), and unanimously supported by all members”.
Ntuli “thanked members for their vote of confidence in his ability to chair the committee. He noted that over the past nine years defence matters were regarded as having to serve all political interests and he stressed that the defence force must not be made into a political playing field. He reminded members that their oath on taking office required them to remain honourable and to serve the country with their best efforts.”
Democratic Alliance MP Rafeek Shah congratulated Ntuli and “expressed his sentiment that the committee did serve the best interests of the country, and he looked forward to continuing this healthy and progressive work.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by Inkatha Freedom Party MP Velaphi Ndlovu and ANC PCOD defence study group leader Dr Gerhard Koornhof.
Ntuli was born on 28 July 1962. He was a co-founder of Soshanguve Youth Organisation in 1979 and graduated from the Hlangani Secondary School in Soshanguve in 1983.
The following year he enrolled at the Transvaal College of Education for a Secondary Teacher`s Diploma, graduating in 1986. He then briefly taught at the Memezelo Secondary School but was dismissed after three months for political activities as he in 1984 had joined the Azanian Student Organisation (later the SA National Student Congress and by then was organiser for the Western Transvaal region.
Ntuli then returned to university, studying for a BA Degree at Vista University`s Mamelodi Campus from mid 1987 to 1989.
He, however, did not complete the degree. In the years 1991-2, Ntuli busied himself with political work, as a coordinator for the Soshanguve Residents Association, building civic and labour structures and dealing with community development issues as well as rental and services matters.
In early 1993, he completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Public and Development Administration at Wits University`s School for Public & Development Management.
In December 1993, Ntuli left the country to receive military training in Zimbabwe. He completed a platoon commander`s course (conventional warfare) at the Zimbabwe Military Academy in Harare (Regimental number: ZA – 10356F).
On his return, he was appointed national organiser of the SA Democratic Teachers Union, tasked with building union structures in the country`s nine provinces. In June 1996 he joined the Khululekanii Institute for Democracy as a constituency researcher.
In 1997, he joined the Gauteng Department of Education as a Labour Relations Officer, serving in District N49. He held that post up to June 1999 when he was elected to the National Assembly.
In Parliament, he has served on the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Joint Standing Committee on Defence and Portfolio Committee on Education.