Mayor Chris Pappas is shaking up the political landscape in South Africa
South Africa’s first and only openly gay mayor, Chris Pappas, has been recognised by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most promising young emerging leaders.
Pappas, who previously served as the DA’s deputy provincial leader in KwaZulu-Natal, is the 32-year-old mayor of uMngeni. His historic election in 2021, making him the first openly gay man to hold such a position, followed the local government elections.
Pappas’ inclusion in the 2023 TIME100 Next list, focusing on rising leaders across various fields including health, climate, business, sports, and the arts, has placed him in the “leaders” category.
Time magazine underlined the uniqueness of his mayoral election, noting “he’s a white, gay, Zulu-speaking politician.”
However, they also highlighted that Pappas successfully bridged those divides by communicating with people in their own language and prioritising tangible improvements to daily life and municipal services over typical political loyalties.
This young politician has left an indelible mark with his compassionate yet pragmatic approach, focusing on efficient service delivery rather than ideological rhetoric.
Time magazine further observed that “Pappas has managed to balance the municipality’s budget for the first time in over a decade and added 175 new homes to the electricity grid.”
Pappas embarked on his political journey as the president of the student representative council at the University of Pretoria, where he pursued studies in town and regional planning.
In 2021, when asked by MambaOnline about how his sexuality might impact his political career, Pappas confidently affirmed, “It is who I am. I can’t change that and would not want to.”
Taking to Twitter to express his sentiments about being featured in Time’s list, Pappas succinctly stated, “Proud to be included…”