THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A Keralite has become the first person of Indian origin to become a member of the Legislature of Eastern Cape, the South African province which is home to Nelson Mandela and several other leaders of the nation’s struggle against apartheid.
Anil Kumar Kesava Pillai, 56, hailing from Tiruvalla in Pathanamthitta, was sworn in as a member of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature (ECPL) on August 30. “I’m honoured. I believe the African National Congress (ANC) assigned me with this important task considering my long association with teaching, trade union and political sectors in the province,” Pillai told Express.
Pillai began his career as a high school teacher and was serving as director of Education Leadership and Management Institute before the legislative appointment. Considering his experience in the education sector, Pillai has been made a member of the ECPL’s portfolio committee on education. “The province gives much importance to education with an annual spending of around Rs 155 billion. Teacher’s training is also a focus area,” he said.
Pillai reached South Africa in 1991. He had served in the South African Democratic Teachers Union in different capacities and was elected to the provincial executive committee of the South African Communist Party in 2015. He was also an active worker of the African National Congress (ANC) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).
The ANC fought the provincial elections as a tripartite alliance comprising the ANC, SACP and the COSATU.
Pillai wants to be the voice of people in the Assembly. “As a trade unionist, I was successful in resolving several issues faced by teachers. Now, I’m attempting to make a positive impact on many more lives,” Pillai said.
Pillai’s wife Mini is a school teacher in Eastern Cape. The couple has two children - Vishnu and Meera. Pillai is the son of late Kesava Pillai and Easwariamma of Maliyil, Mathilbhagam.
Provincial Legislature of Eastern Cape
The Provincial Legislature of Eastern Cape consists of 63 members who are elected through party-list proportional representation. Under this system, electors cast their vote for the political party of their choice. The seats in the legislature are allocated to the parties in proportion to the number of votes they receive. The African National Congress received 44 seats in the sixth provincial elections held in May this year. Anil Kumar, 47th in the list, joined the House following the demise of a member. Two other persons, who were next in line, had already taken up other positions.