Public sector: Ministers
Deputy Minister of Social Development
Tel: +27 12 312 7483
Jean Benjamin is no stranger to politics. She was expelled from the University of the Western Cape in the 1970s for protesting against apartheid.
Now, as deputy minister of social development, she faces a different kind of struggle: how to uplift South Africa’s poorest citizens.
Benjamin achieved an honours degree in psychology in London after fleeing South Africa in 1973.She returned to South Africa in 1980 where she immediately re-entered the political fray. In 1996 she obtained a PhD in social psychology, ironically from the institution that had once banned her. She has served on several political, parliamentary and University of Western Cape committees, and has lectured in social psychology at the university. She became an MP in 1997 and has written three papers on language-related issues. Benjamin is one of 10 women deputy ministers, moving into her position after serving as chairperson of the members’ interest sub-committee of the National Assembly rules committee.
Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture
Tel: +27 12 441 3014
Ntombazana Botha’s strong people skills were in evidence at provincial and local government levels. In her former post, as deputy minister of provincial and local government, Botha started the Women in Local Government programme, aimed at helping female councillors overcome past disadvantages and take a leadership role in development at local government level. Her people skills were also useful in the struggle years; she helped establish the United Democratic Front in the Border region of the Eastern Cape in 1983. From 1991 to 1997 she was coordinator for the Lawyers for Human Rights paralegal training project at regional, provincial and then national level. She served as vice-chairperson of the Eastern Cape NGO Coalition in 1996 and 1997 joining Parliament in July 1997.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Tel: +27 12 351 0006
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma took over the portfolio of minister of foreign affairs in 1999, entering government as health minister after the 1994 election. She completed a BSc in zoology and botany at the University of Zululand, then studied medicine at the University of Natal’s medical school, where she was elected vice-president of the South African Students’ Organisation.She went into exile in 1976 and completed her medical degree at the University of Bristol in the UK. She returned to South Africa in the early 1990s. Dlamini-Zuma’s tenure as health minister was not without controversy, including a poor response to the burgeoning HIV/Aids pandemic, but she did chalk up some wins: taking on the tobacco industry and inviting Cuban doctors to practise in badly-served South African rural areas.Her work as foreign minister has been successful. Dlamini-Zuma has acted as deputy chairperson of the United Nations Aids Board, member of the National Aids Coordinating Committee of South Africa, trustee of the Health Systems Trust and a member of the Centre for Social Development Studies board.
Minister of Public Works
Tel: +27 12 337 2255
Thoko Didiza was appointed minister of public works in May 2006 after the death of Stella Sigca. She had been in government since 1994, serving first as deputy minister of agriculture and then, in 1999, as minister of agriculture and land affairs. When made a deputy, she famously described her knowledge of farming this way: “You plant, you grow, you eat, and what you don’t eat you try to sell.” She matriculated at the famous Ohlange High School in Durban, established by ANC founder John Dube, and then completed diplomas in personnel training, public relations, journalism and financial management.In 2003 she earned a BA degree in sociology and politics. In the 1980s she worked as a legal secretary at Mafuka Mbuli and Company, as a receptionist at the Diakonia Ecumenical Church Agency and as the national deputy general secretary of the South African Council of the Young Women’s Christian Association. She started her political career as a member of the ANC Youth League and was one of only two members of the league who made it onto the party’s national executive committee at the 1997 Mafikeng congress.
Minister of Public Service and Administration
Tel: +27 12 314 7368
Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi heads the Ministry of Public Service and Administration, a portfolio that needs tough leadership—and she is one of the more tough-minded members of the Cabinet. Her studies at the University of the Western Cape were interrupted in 1978 when she went into exile in Zimbabwe. She completed a three-month military training course in Angola before attending special commanders’ training in the Soviet Union in 1982.She returned to Zimbabwe to serve in the leadership of the SACP and played a role in its relaunch in South Africa in 1990. She had been serving as deputy minister of welfare for six months when the National Party pulled out of the government of national unity in 1996—the post had been set aside for the NP—and she stepped into the minister’s office.In 1999 she was named minister of public service and administration. She is the chairperson of the public service anti-corruption strategy and has led a negotiation process of the African Union Convention on Combating and Preventing Corruption, as well as the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
Deputy Minister of Provincial and Local Government
Tel: +27 12 334 0827
Nomatyala Hangana left the Western Cape housing department in a shambles when she took up the position of deputy minister of provincial and local government. Many in the province privately expressed disappointment that the former chairperson of Parliament’s housing committee did not rise to the challenge when given the chance to put policy into practice.Hangana had been redeployed to the province from Parliament, where she had served since 1994, after the ANC-New National Party provincial government took control at the end of 2001. Politically, she is closely linked to the ANC Women’s League, having served in the league’s Western Cape and national structures. In August 2003 she was re-elected to the national executive committee and also serves on its national working committee.Originally from the Eastern Cape, she obtained a paralegal diploma in 1982 and worked at the Legal Resources Centre in Cape Town before moving on to the Athlone law firm then run by Bulelani Ngcuka and SM Matana.
Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry
Tel: +27 12 336 8733
Lindiwe Hendricks joined the Ministry of Water Affairs and Forestry in May 2006 after a Cabinet reshuffle brought on by the death of public works minister Stella Sigcau. This sort of deployment is not new to Hendricks; her previous post as minister of minerals and energy rose from a 2005 Cabinet reshuffle after the dismissal of deputy president Jacob Zuma and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka’s promotion to his former post.Before that move, Hendricks was deputy minister of trade and industry, a position she had held since 1999. A lawyer, Hendricks earned both a BProc degree and an LLB from the University of Fort Hare. While in Parliament, she was a member of the justice and constitutional development committee and the joint standing committee on intelligence. She has done pioneering work in initiatives such as the South African Women Entrepreneurs Network. A former national deputy president of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, she joined the ANC in the 1980s and over the years has held a variety of positions at branch level.
Deputy Minister of Correctional Services
Tel: +27 12 307 2933/2324
Loretta Jacobus was appointed deputy minister of correctional services in February 2006 after the resignation of the incumbent, Cheryl Gillwald. An MP since 1999, when she became a permanent delegate of the Gauteng Legislature in the National Council of Provinces, she has served on various committees, including the select committee on education and recreation, the subcommittee on delegated legislation and the joint committee on international relations. In 2004 she became a member of the National Assembly.She has chaired the portfolio committee on arts and culture and has served on both the foreign affairs portfolio committee and the sub-committee on international relations. Jacobus holds a diploma in social welfare and has worked for the National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa and the Macro Economic Research Group. She has a strong political background and is still an active member of the Johannesburg East ANC branch.
Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Tel: +27 12 310 3898
Rejoice Mabudafhasi, the deputy minister of environmental affairs and tourism since 1999, has played a lead role in dealing with “brown” issues such as air pollution, occupational health, waste and sanitation. When environmental justice activists gathered in protest, it was Mabudafhasi who went to talk to them—and who sometimes joined them in their protests.An ANC stalwart with solid struggle credentials, she was national organiser for the National Education Coordination Committee in the 1980s, was twice detained and was injured when her house was bombed. Mabudafhasi was a teacher, librarian, unionist and activist in Limpopo, and in the early 1990s was a commissioner on the Human Rights Commission and a member of the Council of the then-University of the North.She has been an MP since 1994, and a member of the portfolio committees on safety and security, environmental affairs and tourism, labour, agriculture, and water and forestry. She also sits on the boards of various organisations charged with environmental protection. Since 1997 she has chaired the board of the Mvula Trust, a leading water and sanitation NGO.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development
Tel: +27 12 315 1760
Brigitte Mabandla’s arrival in the Justice Ministry in 2004 was long expected. An academic lawyer—she earned her LLB in Zambia—her appointment in 1995 as deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology had come as a surprise. She had been a member of the ANC’s negotiating team at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, and had been working at the Community Law Centre of the University of the Western Cape. In 2003 she took up the post of minister of housing—a second detour.Mabandla left South Africa in the 1970s and earned an LLB degree at the University of Zambia. She lectured in law in Botswana until she became a legal adviser in the ANC’s legal and constitutional affairs department in Lusaka. She serves on the boards of several trusts concerned with the welfare of children, including the Grassroots Early Childhood Education Project and the National Committee for the Rights of Children.
Minister of Home Affairs
Tel: +27 12 810 8941
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has been hardly more successful than her predecessor in sorting out the mess in Home Affairs. Formerly deputy minister, she was appointed to head the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2004. Mapisa-Nqakula started her political career as a founder member of the East London Domestic Workers’ Association in 1982 before leaving the country in 1984 to undergo military training in Angola and the Soviet Union.The ANC appointed her to a commission that investigated unhappiness within Umkhonto weSizwe ranks in the 1980s. She returned to South Africa in 1990 to help the movement rebuild its structures, and was elected Women’s League organiser in 1991. Elected to Parliament in 1994, she was appointed chairperson of its joint standing committee on intelligence. When chief whip Tony Yengeni was forced to resign his post, she replaced him as chief whip. She was appointed deputy chairperson of the ANC parliamentary political committee in 2001. She has been implicated in the Travelgate affair, in which politicians cashed in their official travel vouchers or used them for purposes other than government business.
Minister of Communications
Tel: +27 12 427 8511/8005
Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri has had a difficult and controversial time as minister of communications. The track record of the former Free State premier and the performance of her department have been underwhelming. Before her premiership, she was the first woman and first black person to chair the SABC.Known as one of the more favoured exiles in the corridors of power, Matsepe-Casaburri returned to South Africa in 1990. Born in 1937, she earned a degree at the University of Fort Hare, taught in KwaZulu-Natal for two years, and moved on to Swaziland. In the 25 years she was in exile, she obtained a PhD in sociology from Rutgers University in the United States, and worked for the United Nations Institute for Namibia in Lusaka. On her return she was appointed executive director of the Education Development Trust, working with the National Education Crisis Committee and became involved in the internal politics of education and youth development.
Tel: +27 12 300 5200/5271
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who became deputy president in June 2005 when Jacob Zuma was fired from the post, has moved to the centre of policy-making through her stewardship of the accelerated growth policy called Asgisa. Essentially, this is a targeted plan to achieve a growth spurt of 7% a year to cut unemployment in half by 2014. The jury is out on whether Asgisa will meet its targets, though few will deny that Mlambo-Ngcuka is an energetic steward.With the former deputy health minister, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, she was also instrumental in overhauling the moribund South African National Aids Council. Perhaps because she is effective in her post, her occasional ethical slip-ups—for example, a taxpayer-funded R500 000 holiday she took in 2006 in Dubai—seem not to have seriously dented her reputation. Before taking up her current posting, Mlambo-Ngcuka had quietly slipped into her portfolio of minerals and energy in 1999, succeeding Penuell Maduna, and eventually totally eclipsing him in that role, concentrating on making charters the way to measure progress in transformation.
Minister of Education
Tel: +27 12 312 5501
Naledi Pandor has a struggle pedigree and education credentials that made her a welcome appointment as the new minister of education in 2004. Pandor is the granddaughter of the famed ZK Matthews, the first African to register at, and to gain a degree from, a South African university. Her father, Joe Matthews, was also a struggle stalwart, and a life of exile from 1961 until 1984 resulted in a decidedly international flavour to her education.Her education credentials include a certificate in education from the University of Botswana and Swaziland in 1977, and a diploma in education and an MA degree from the University of London in 1978. She concluded her formal education with a master’s in general linguistics from Stellenbosch University in 1997, while she was still serving as an MP (she joined Parliament in 1994). Pandor has experience in positions of authority, including deputy chief whip of the ANC in the National Assembly from 1995 to 1998. She went on to become deputy chairperson of the National Council of Provinces in 1998 and its chairperson a year later.
Deputy Minister of Safety and Security
Tel: +27 12 393 2814
As deputy minister of safety and security, a position she has held since 2004, Susan Shabangu set off a flurry of controversy in mid-2008 when she advised policemen under attack from armed criminals to shoot to kill. A former deputy minister of minerals and energy, Shabangu concentrated on women’s and trade union issues before 1994. She was assistant secretary for the Federation of South African Women in the then Transvaal in 1980, and was involved in the formation of the Release Mandela Campaign.In the mid-1980s she became involved in the labour field as organiser and administrator for the Amalgamated Black Workers’ Project. She was national women’s issues coordinator for the Transport and General Workers Union, and was a member of the national women’s sub-committee for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). It was via Cosatu that she went to Parliament in 1994, and two years later was made deputy energy minister.
Lindiwe Nonceba Sisulu
Minister of Housing
Tel: +27 12 421 1311
As housing minister, Lindiwe Nonceba Sisulu has found her niche. She is clearly passionate about housing and while civil society has many complaints about delivery, she is the best housing minister South Africa has had in years. Sisulu’s biggest tasks will be to eradicate shack settlements in the short term. A member of what is arguably South Africa’s best-loved family, the daughter of struggle icons Albertina and the late Walter Sisulu, Lindiwe Sisulu seemed set for stardom when she returned from exile in 1990. She worked in the ANC’s intelligence department and represented the ANC on the transitional executive council’s intelligence committee. It seemed a logical move, when she went to Parliament, to deploy her as chairperson of the parliamentary joint standing committee on intelligence. She has served as South Africa’s deputy minister of home affairs and as minister of intelligence.
Buyelwa Patience Sonjica
Minister of Minerals and Energy
Tel: +27 12 322 8695
Buyelwa Patience Sonjica took over the Minerals and Energy portfolio after the May 2006 Cabinet reshuffle, in time to take the flak for the country’s energy problems. Her suggestion that people should save electricity by going to sleep early so they could become cleverer did not endear her to South Africans weary of load-shedding.Sonjica may have wished she’d been kept in her previous post as minister of water affairs and forestry. An MP from 1994 to 1997, she was deputy minister of arts, culture, science and technology from 2003. Born in the Eastern Cape, she worked as a student nurse before training as a teacher. She obtained a BA from Vista University and went on to gain a BA honours in Xhosa from Rhodes University.Sonjica became involved in student politics in 1976. She joined the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union and was also active in the ANC and the Women’s League. From 1994 to 1997, she served on the first parliamentary portfolio committee of arts and culture and then on a variety of other committees, including finance, trade and industry, and water affairs and forestry. She was ANC whip from 1994 to 1999.
Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry
Tel: +27 12 394 1480
Elizabeth Thabethe became one of two deputy ministers of trade and industry after the Cabinet reshuffle necessitated by Jacob Zuma’s sacking in June 2005. She ascended to the position from the chairpersonship of the portfolio committee on environmental affairs and tourism.An MP since 1994, Thabethe has sat on various parliamentary committees, including those on labour, trade and industry, rules and the chief whips’ forum. She is the current deputy chairperson of the ANC Women’s League in Gauteng, and has been involved in both the ANC women’s parliamentary caucus and the multiparty women’s caucus at Parliament.
Minister of Health
Tel: +27 21 328 477/5
Mantombazana Tshabalala-Msimang has been Minister of Health since 1999, enough time for her reluctance to provide anti-Aids drugs in the public health sector, and her repeated statements that the drugs are toxic, to have earned her many detractors.
She was educated at Inanda Seminary in Durban and obtained a BA degree at the University of Fort Hare before leaving the country. She earned a medical degree at the First Leningrad Medical Institute in the Soviet Union, a master’s in public health from the University of Antwerp in Belgium, and a diploma in obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Dar es Salaam before returning to South Africa when the ANC was unbanned.In 1996, as an ANC MP and chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on health with a good reputation among activists for her stance on Aids, women’s health and primary healthcare, she was promoted to deputy minister of justice. She is married to Mendi Msimang, who spent many years as ANC treasurer-general before being replaced in December 2007 by Mathews Phosa.
Susan van der Merwe
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
Tel: +27 12 351 0150
Foreign Affairs apparently requires two deputies: Susan van der Merwe has served alongside Aziz Pahad since April 2004. A native of the Eastern Cape, she matriculated in 1971 and participated in a year-long American Field Service Scholarship cultural exchange before sitting for her BA degree at the University of Cape Town.She cut her political teeth in the Black Sash, where she worked in the advice office in Cape Town between 1988 and 1991; she was executive assistant at the Open Society Foundation of South Africa; and was a participant in the ground-breaking Mont Fleur scenario planning exercise between 1991 and 1993. Van der Merwe was elected to Parliament on an ANC ticket in 1996 and was ANC whip from 1999 to 2000. Between 2000 and 2004 she served as parliamentary counsellor to the president and sat on several parliamentary committees, including those of finance and intelligence.
Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs
Tel: +27 12 319 7155
Lulama Xingwana was given control of the Agriculture and Land Affairs portfolio after the May 2006 Cabinet reshuffle. She had been deputy minister of minerals and energy. In her new job, she has presided over the expropriation of two farms whose price the owners and the government could not agree on.Xingwana has been an MP since 1994 and has a passion for rural development and the status of women. Her political involvement appears to have come first via the Federation of South African Women, then the UDF and the ANC Women’s League. Xingwana has held a number of committee posts in Parliament, including the chair of the joint monitoring committee on the improvement of the quality of life and status of women. She has chaired the SADC regional women’s caucus since 2002. ingwana has also found time for postgraduate studies to add to her Witwatersrand University BSc: diplomas in rural development and leadership studies (Zimbabwe); and a postgraduate diploma in economic principles from the University of London, where she has enrolled for an MSc in development finance. She has been implicated in the Travelgate affair.