The 46-year-old KwaZulu-Natal ANC provincial chairperson joined politics at the age of 15.  Although his appointment is in line with the governing party’s preference of making provincial leaders premiers – it was not expected by some, who had thought he might not be given the top seat as he backed Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s ANC presidency bid at Nasrec during the party’s hotly contested elective conference in 2017.

Zikalala is hailed as an accomplished organiser and workaholic. He is credited with the rebuilding of structures of the ANC and the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) in northern Durban areas after the unbanning of the party in 1990.  The father of two is also respected for having contributed to the ANC’s growth in KwaZulu-Natal when he was deputy provincial secretary and later promoted to the secretary post during 2008 and 2009. This led to the party clinching a landslide victory in the province during the 2009 general and 2011 municipal elections.

Zikalala has served in the KwaZulu-Natal government as the provincial MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs. He has a communications science degree and honours in bachelor of administration.