Bulelani Mzila [via photographer Moekesti Mamane]
Bulelani Mzila, an alumni of Victory Institute’s LGBTIQ Political Leadership Institute in South Africa, will be a part of South Africa’s African National Conference (ANC)’s new LGBTI desk in Kwa-Zulu Natal (KNZ). Last Friday, ANC, the majority party in South Africa’s parliament, announced the desk under its Women’s League division to represent young LGBTQ party members and give them a voice within the party, particularly regarding hate crimes and discrimination. The launch came during the party’s 108th anniversary celebration.
Mzila now serves as KZN’s Interim Convener for the Embrace Diversity Political Movement (EDPM), an LGBTQI-led movement supporting the ANC and working towards equality for all in South Africa, focusing on “social and economic inclusion for all LGBTIQ persons“. Through EDPM, ANC’s LGBTI constituency pushed for representation within the party, culminating with the new LGBTI Desk.
Last year, KZN’s EDPM division met with their local Executive Council Member on Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu. That discussion eventually became the KZN “Fabulous About Health” drive. “Fabulous About Health” is an initiative meant to educate health care workers on LGBTQI issues to eliminate the discrimination LGBTQ people in the providence face when seeking health care services. Mzila shared that they hope the LGBTI Desk will work with government officials on similar programs. As described in a press release, the Desk will “serve as a space for members of the LGBTIQ community to freely express themselves and influence the movement in its articulation of policies and conference resolutions” within a “Queer, feminist and intersectional framework.”
Mzila also commented on the utility of skills they gained with Victory Institute. At the LGBTIQ Political Leadership Institute in South Africa last May through September, they trained with executives from Univerity of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business on social impact. The training helped prepare them for their role with EDPM by developing their understanding of cultural systemic change. A part of the Leadership Institute, the session trained South African LGBTIQ activists and leaders for candidacy as elected officials and for work within the country’s political parties.
The impactful Institute resulted from collaboration between Victory Institute and the Triangle Project, an organization working towards the realization of human rights for LGBTQ+ people in South Africa. Local partnerships enable Victory Institute to understand the needs of international LGBTQ+ communities and work with them to effectively train local leaders and activists to enact change within the context of their political systems.