KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Finance, Ms Neliswa Peggy Nkonyeni is a seasoned politician having joined the African National Congress at a very young age. She's also a long serving member of the African National Congress. She has served various leadership structures including that of being the Treasurer of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal. She was the first Chairperson of the ANC Women's League in the now the Tolomane Mnyayiza Region. She also currently serves in the Provincial Task Team of the ANC Women's League. Among the Task Team's other responsibilities, is to prepare and organise the Provincial Conference.
During the ANC National Conference in December 2022, she was elected to the party's National Executive Committee and later elected to the National Working Committee which is a committee that conduct the current work of the ANC and ensure that provinces, regions, branches and all other ANC structures, such as parliamentary caucuses, carry out the decisions of the ANC.
MEC Nkonyeni hails from Gamalakhe Township, which is located in the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, and it is where she cut her political teeth as a young activist.
She is an educator by profession having obtained her Education qualification from Eshowe College of Education.
MEC Nkonyeni has undertaken further studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is currently registered for a Master's Degree in the same institution (Witswatersrand).
She has previously served as KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Health and MEC for Education as well as Speaker of the Provincial Legislature.
Her other Legislature deployments have included Chairperson of Committees and Chairperson of the Women's Caucus.
After the May 2019 General Election, she returned from her deployment to the National Assembly to a seat in the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature. On 27 May 2019, former Premier Sihle Zikalala appointed her to the portfolio of MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works.
In March 2021, she was reassigned by the then Premier Zikalala to assume the position of MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison where she became the first female to lead the portfolio in the province.
During her tenure she pioneered a number of programmes that are aimed at improving both road conditions and ensuring road safety in the province. Her brainchild programme dubbed Operation Vala'Amapotholes saw the programme being adopted by the National Department of Transport and being introduced in all 9 nine provinces as Operation Valazonke. She has a deep commitment to the eradication of poverty, inequality and unemployment and the overall transformation of the society.
In response to the devastating floods that hits many parts of the province in April and May 2022, MEC Nkonyeni launched Operation Siyazenzela. The programme aimed at maintaining the road infrastructure using the departmental own internal staff and equipment to do minor road repairs.
As the MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison she was also responsible for community safety. In her efforts of fighting crime, she launched the programme of recruiting young graduates (law and researchers) to assist the Department of Community Safety and Liaison in researching the causal factors of crime and give legal advices to communities.
On another move by the current Premier of the Province, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, to stabilise provincial coffers, on the 11th of August 2022, MEC Nkonyeni was appointed as the MEC for Finance/Provincial Treasury. She came with her vast experience on the public sector that brings about stability and ensures that public funds are utilised in a proper and efficient manner.
Her focus is on ensuring that the Department of Finance maintains its position of being one of the best run departments in the Province, having obtained 14 consecutives clean audits. She has so far hit the ground running in ensuring that other government Departments, Municipalities and public entities also receives clean audits.
She also drives vigorous campaigns of ensuring that the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) and the general public have a better understand about their finances and the responsible ways of spending. In her quest of dealing with Gender Based Violence, MEC Nkonyeni is currently driving a campaign of educating other department of being 'gender sensitive' when preparing their budgets.
MEC Nkonyeni is the Operation Sukuma Sakhe Champion for iLembe District and a strong proponent of the District Development Model, which is aimed at fast-tracking service delivery and ensuring that municipalities are adequately supported and resourced to carry out their mandate.
She is an advocacy for the development of rural communities and empowerment of women, youth and people with disabilities as well as military veterans across all sectors.