A legacy of social engagement

Jay Naidoo was the winner of the Drivers of Change Individual Award in 2010, and his dedication to the kind of work for which he was recognised at the time remains undiminished.

Naidoo is renowned as founding general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and he served as minister in the presidency in charge of the Reconstruction and Development Programme from 1994 to 1996 and minister of post, telecommunications and broadcasting from 1996 to 1999. He was also non-executive chairperson of the Development Bank of Southern Africa from 2001 to 2010.

His post-politics and business life after his initial win in 2010 has seen him focus on development projects, with a particular focus on nutrition and the environment.

Naidoo is a trustee of the Earthrise Trust, dedicated to understanding and addressing the structural causes of growing inequality, poverty and marginalisation. The Earthrise Trust is involved in the redevelopment of Rustler’s Valley Farm near Ficksburg in the Free State, in co-operation with the community of Naledi Village.

Naidoo continues to be a visible commentator, writing for a number of major South African newspapers, and has been a present voice on a number of social justice issues in South Africa, notably the #FeesMustFall protests. He has also been a vocal opponent of nuclear energy in South Africa.

Naidoo has served in an advisory capacity for a number of international organisations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Health Advisory Board of the Clinton Global Initiative, the Broadband Commission of the International Telecommunications Union and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. He was a member of the UN Scaling up Nutrition Lead Group and from 2003 to 2010 he served as deputy chair and trustee of LoveLife.

From 2003 to 2015 Naidoo was the chairperson of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, a global foundation headquartered in Geneva that is committed to addressing global malnutrition. The alliance is a public–private partnership that brings together UN agencies, private businesses, philanthropic organisations, governments and civil societies around practical programmes in 30 countries worldwide.

At present, Naidoo is a member of the board of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, established to promote African development through a focus on promoting and rewarding good governance. Its rigorous standards mean that the foundation has only given its Ibrahim Prize for African leadership four times since 2007, and this week announced its decision to make no award for 2016.

Other awards since his Drivers of Change recognition include the Kuzwayo Award from the University of Johannesburg, as well as an honorary doctorate from Durban University of Technology.

He published an autobiography in 2010, titled Fighting for Justice. Naidoo’s latest book CHANGE! Organising Tomorrow, Today will be published in March 2017.

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