Public sector: Premiers

Frances Beatrice Marshoff
Free State
Tel: +27 51 405 5799

Frances Beatrice Marshoff is the third woman to be appointed premier of the Free State, succeeding Winkie Direko and Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri. Born and educated in the Free State, Marshoff became an MP in 1994 and served on the health, finance and public accounts committees. In 1998 she chaired both the Reconstruction and Development Programme portfolio committee and the sub-committee on health financing.

She was moved to the Free State during a provincial executive reshuffle­ in 2001 and appointed provincial minister for social development. Marshoff, who trained as a nurse, is a founder member of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union in the Free State. She has been implicated in the Travelgate affair, in which leading politicians either cashed in their government-issued travel vouchers or used them for purposes other than official business.

Edna Molewa
North West
Tel: +27 18 387 4445

Edna Molewa served in the North West legislature for eight years before she was appointed premier in 2004. She was one of the first women chairpersons of a parliamentary committee, heading trade and industry until 1996, when she became North West minister for tourism, environment and conservation.Two years later, she headed the economic development and tourism portfolio and then moved on to the agriculture, conservation and environment portfolio. Molewa began her career as a teacher in the 1970s before becoming involved in the underground structures of the liberation movement.She served on various trade union leadership structures: she was a first deputy president of Saccawu, and in women’s organisations, she was a member of the Federation of Transvaal Women, then provincial chairperson of the ANC Women’s League.She completed courses in economic leadership and administration at two prestigious American institutions: the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Kennedy School of Governance at Harvard University.

Dipuo Peters
Northern Cape
Tel: +27 53 830 8610

Dipuo Peters was one of the president’s surprise appointments for premier. She had been a controversial health MEC — in 2002 she lambasted health officials at Kimberley Hospital for giving an antiretroviral drug to a raped baby. She insisted she was only acting in accordance with government policy and demanded that the hospital stop administering ARVs to rape survivors.It was a surprising view from a former social worker whose focus was women’s rights; she also worked as an organiser for the South African Domestic Workers Union. However, as government softened its views on HIV, so did Peters, and as premier she launched a provincial Aids council and a comprehensive treatment programme. Peters obtained her BA in social work from the University of the North in 1987. Between 1987 and 1990 she was head of the women’s department at the South African Youth Congress. In 1990 she joined the ANC Youth League as the national secretary for women’s affairs. She was an MP from 1994 to 1997, handling the ANC’s Northern Cape and ANC membership register. From 1997 to 1999 she was the ANC chief whip in the Northern Cape provincial legislature.

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