Meet John Steenhuisen, a South African Businessman and leader of the opposition party Democratic Alliance

by Verity Lane on 21 Februari 2023

Below is a brief history of his accomplishments, education and political career in general.

1) John born 25 March 1976 is a South African politician & multi-millionaire who has served the nation in various capacities. He is also the leader of the Opposition & federal leader of the DA, positions, he has held since 2019. His net worth is estimated to be around $4m & $5m.

2) The role of the opposition in democracy is to keep the government of the day on its toes, which is exactly what John is doing in RSA. A prominent member of the DA, Steenhuisen has grown through the ranks to become the leader of a party that is now the largest opposition in SA.

3) Steenhuisen has survived several scandals in the course of his career, but one that he cannot seem to shake is the controversy over the fact that he does not have a degree. He completed his secondary school education and matriculated from Northwood Boys High School in 1993.

4) He then enrolled at the University of South Africa to study politics and law in 1994. According to Steenhuisen, he studied at UNISA for three years, during which he received several certificates of merit with distinctions in politics 1,2,3 and international politics.

5) However he never got his degree as he dropped out due to financial difficulties.

Upon dropping out, He largely focused on his political career.

6) He later carved out time to undertake several courses at London School of Economics, which spans African economic development, leadership, municipal finance & legislative drafting. 

According to him much of the theories he learned in varsity have not come handy in his career.

7) What has been helpful is his focused education on key topics and on-the-job training. The above explanations are quite sound but the fact remains that he has no university degree but a mere matriculation certificate, and this has brought him sharp criticisms over the years.

8) The issue 1st reared its head up around 2009 while he was in the KZN regional legislature. It once more grabbed headlines again in 2020 when he indicated his willingness to run for DA leader, with many people pointing out that Steenhuisen is a beneficiary of white privilege.

9) According to them, Steenhuisen would not have come this far without a varisty degree if he was black. This school of thought was also peeved that he defeated black people who had higher educational qualifications, during the election. John has refused to bow to these arguments.

10) According to him, he has been quite truthful about his educational background and has never lied about what certificates he has. Details about Steenhuisen’s family background and early years are hard to come by, but the DA leader has revealed that his father is a psychologist.

11) On numerous occasions he has also shared that his journey into politics & joining the Democratic Alliance took place at a very young age. As a young boy growing up in a community in Durban, John Steenhuisen had a passion for making his society better.

12) He joined nonprofit organizations such as Rotoract but found that their efforts were often hampered by the authorities. He thus decided to get in a position where he could influence the actions of the decision-makers.

13) At the age of 19, John Steenhuisen joined the DA fueled by their vision of making lives better for all South Africans. Starting as an activist for the party, the young man often used bicycles to deliver the party’s election pamphlets from door to door.

14) This helped the party gain more seats, and by 1999, a then-22-year-old John Steenhuisen decided to contest for a seat in the Durban City Council. He won the election as the councilor for Durban North and made history as the youngest municipal councilor at that time.

15) Steenhuisen spent about 8 years as a city councilor during which he made an impact in several areas, including fixing the porthole, riddled roads. A true rising star, he was selected to serve on the city’s executive committee, & in his party, he was appointed a caucus leader.

16) After several years of impactful service as a councilor, Steenhuisen decided to up the ante by seeking election to the KwaZulu Natal regional legislature in 2009. He succeeded, and the next two years saw him excel once more, exposing corruption in high places of government.

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