The enigma of the new state security minister

While high-profile names such as Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan stole the headlines following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet reshuffle, there was one name that has flown largely under the radar.

Dipuo Bertha Letsatsi-Duba was on Monday night named South Africa’s new state security minister, taking over from Bongani Bongo. Bongo himself was a little-known prospect when he was appointed to the position during former president Jacob Zuma’s reshuffle in October last year. Most recently, he gained infamy after the Sunday Times reported that he had an extended stay at the R7 000-a-night Taj hotel in Cape Town – costing taxpayers R147 000.

Letsatsi-Duba grew up in Gauteng but later moved to Zambia to complete her secondary education at Luanshya Girls’ High School. In 1987, she received a Cuban tertiary level diploma in political science, later returning to the continent to complete a diploma in mass communication from Harare Polytechnic in Zimbabwe in 1992.  

A long-time ANC member, Letsatsi-Duba left the country 1982 to join the party and Umkhonto We Sizwe in exile. After the fall of apartheid, she took up various roles within the organisation and later went into business after relocating to Limpopo.

It was in 2009 that she would go on to be elected as a member of the Limpopo provincial legislature and as the MEC for agriculture.

Letsatsi-Duba’s last position before joining the national executive was as chairperson of the portfolio committee on public enterprises.During this period she was one of two “caretaker leaders” sent to the Western Cape while the ANC’s top leaders in the region at the time, Marius Fransman and Faiez Jacobs, faced allegations of sexual assault.

In March 2017, after months of speculation, Zuma dropped the hammer and announced a reshuffle to his cabinet – Letsatsi-Duba was named deputy minister of public service and administration. She would serve in this post until Monday evening.

Staff Reporter
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