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Naledi Pandor

Naledi Pandor
Pandor in 2022
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation
Assumed office
30 May 2019
PresidentCyril Ramaphosa
DeputyAlvin Botes
Candith Mashego-Dlamini
Preceded byLindiwe Sisulu
Minister of Higher Education and Training
In office
27 February 2018 – 29 May 2019
PresidentCyril Ramaphosa
DeputyButi Manamela
Preceded byHlengiwe Mkhize
Succeeded byBlade Nzimande (Higher Education, Science and Technology)
Minister of Science and Technology
In office
26 May 2014 – 26 February 2018
PresidentJacob Zuma
Cyril Ramaphosa
DeputyZanele kaMagwaza-Msibi
Preceded byDerek Hanekom
Succeeded byMmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane
In office
10 May 2009 – 4 October 2012
PresidentJacob Zuma
DeputyZanele kaMagwaza-Msibi
Preceded byMosibudi Mangena
Succeeded byDerek Hanekom
Minister of Home Affairs
In office
2 October 2012 – 25 May 2014
Acting: 2 October 2012 – 4 October 2012
PresidentJacob Zuma
DeputyFatima Chohan
Preceded byNkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
Succeeded byMalusi Gigaba
Minister of Education
In office
12 May 2004 – 10 May 2009
PresidentThabo Mbeki
Kgalema Motlanthe
DeputyEnver Surty
Preceded byKader Asmal
Succeeded byAngie Motshekga (Basic Education)
Blade Nzimande (Higher Education and Training)
2nd Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces
In office
21 June 1999 – 4 May 2004
PresidentThabo Mbeki
Preceded byMosiuoa Lekota
Succeeded byJoyce Kgoali
Personal details
Grace Naledi Mandisa Matthews

(1953-12-07) 7 December 1953 (age 70)
Durban, Union of South Africa
Political partyAfrican National Congress
SpouseSharif Pandor
EducationUniversity of Swaziland (BA)
University of Botswana (BA)
University of London (MA)
Stellenbosch University (MA)
University of Pretoria (PhD)
Academic background
ThesisContested meanings of transformation in higher education in post-apartheid South Africa
  • Politician
  • educator
  • academic
  • philosopher

  • diplomat
  • legislator

  • anti-apartheid activist

Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor (née Matthews; born 7 December 1953) is a South African politician, educator and academic serving as the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation since 2019. She has served as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the African National Congress (ANC) since 1994.

Born in Durban, Pandor completed high school in Botswana. She qualified as a teacher and taught at multiple schools and universities, while she achieved various degrees from different universities.[1] Pandor took office as a Member of Parliament in 1994.[1] She soon became Deputy Chief Whip of the ANC caucus in 1995.[1] She was elected Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces in 1998 and became chairperson in 1999.[1]

She initially became a member of the national cabinet in 2004, following President Thabo Mbeki's decision to appoint her as Minister of Education.[2] She retained her post in the cabinet of Kgalema Motlanthe. Newly elected President Jacob Zuma named her Minister of Science and Technology in 2009.[3] She served in the position until her appointment as Minister of Home Affairs in 2012.[4] She returned to the post of Minister of Science and Technology in 2014 and held it until 2018, when she became Minister of Higher Education and Training in the first cabinet of President Cyril Ramaphosa.[5][6] After the 2019 general election, Pandor was mentioned as a possible candidate for Deputy President of South Africa.[7] She was instead appointed Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.[8]

Early life and education

Grace Naledi Mandisa Matthews was born on 7 December 1953 in Durban, Natal, to Regina Thelma (died 2002) and Joe Matthews (1929–2010), a political and anti-apartheid activist and the son of academic Z. K. Matthews (1901–1968).[9][10] She received her primary and secondary education in Botswana. She matriculated from Gaborone Secondary School. Between 1973 and 1977, she achieved a Certificate for Continuing Education and a bachelor's degree from the University of Swaziland and the University of Botswana, respectively.[1] She then went overseas and fulfilled a Diploma in Education and an MA degree from the University of London between 1978 and 1979.[1][11]

Pandor obtained a diploma in higher education, administration and leadership from the Bryn Mawr Summer Programme in 1992, and soon enrolled at Harvard Kennedy School to receive a diploma in leadership in development in 1997. She also attained an MA degree in linguistics from the University of Stellenbosch in the same year.[1] Pandor received her PhD in education at the University of Pretoria in 2019, with a thesis titled "The contested meaning of transformation in higher education in post-apartheid South Africa".[11][12][13]

Teaching career

Pandor became a teacher at the Ernest Bevin School in London in 1980. She was subsequently employed as a teacher in Gaborone from 1981 to 1984, and as an instructor at the Taung College of Education from 1984 to 1986. Pandor worked as a senior lecturer in English at the University of Bophuthatswana from 1986 to 1989, and then as a senior fellow in the Academic Support Programme of the University of Cape Town from 1989 to 1994.[11]

While at the University of Bophuthatswana, Pandor served as the chair of the university's Union of Democratic Staff Associations between 1988 and 1990. She was appointed the chairperson of the Western Cape National Executive Committee of the National Education Coordinating Committee in 1991 and served in the position until 1993. At the same time, she was part of the ANC's Western Cape Education Committee.[11]

Additionally, Pandor chaired the ANC Athlone Central branch, while serving as both the head of the Desmond Tutu Education Trust and the Western Cape School Building Trust.[11]

From 1992 to 1995, she worked as deputy head of the Tertiary Education Fund of South Africa. She soon became head of the fund. She was also deputy chairperson of the Joint Education Trust Board of Trustees between 1993 and 2001.[11]

She was chancellor of Cape Technikon from 2002 to 2004. During the same period, she was a member of the governing council of the University of Fort Hare.[11]

Early parliamentary career

Pandor became a Member of the Parliament in the lower house of Parliament, the National Assembly, following the 1994 general election.[14] Within the ANC caucus, she served as Deputy Chief Whip from 1995 until her deployment to the upper house of Parliament, the National Council of Provinces, in 1998. She served as Deputy Chairperson until her appointment as Chairperson following the 1999 general election. She succeeded inaugural Chairperson Mosioua Lekota when she assumed the office on 21 June 1999. She was the first woman to hold the role. Joyce Kgoali succeeded Pandor in 2004 and consequently became the second woman to hold the role.[14]

National government

Minister of Education (2004–2009)

Pandor returned to the National Assembly following the 2004 general election. President Thabo Mbeki appointed her to the role of Minister of Education; she took office on 12 May 2004.[15] During her tenure in the portfolio, she was responsible for a complete overhaul of the nation's education system. Pandor initiated reforms to the country's failed implementation of the outcomes-based education (OBE) system.[16] Mbeki resigned in 2008 and left Kgalema Motlanthe in charge. Motlanthe retained Pandor in her position in his interim cabinet.[14][17][18]

Minister of Science and Technology (2009–2012)

Following the 2009 general election, Jacob Zuma became the new President of South Africa. He unbundled the Education Ministry into two new portfolios and appointed Pandor to the newly established post of Minister of Science and Technology in May 2009.[19][20] During her time in the position, Pandor served as a driving force for South Africa to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in the Karoo region. South Africa won the bid.[14][21][22][23]

Minister of Home Affairs (2012–2014)

In October 2012, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma resigned as Minister of Home Affairs in order for her to take up the role as Chair of the African Union.[24] Her resignation caused a vacancy in the cabinet. Zuma consequently appointed Pandor as Minister of Home Affairs in an acting capacity on 2 October 2012.[25] Soon after on 4 October 2012, Zuma formally appointed her as Minister of Home Affairs.[14][26] In October 2013, she served as acting president for a day as Zuma visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[27]

Minister of Science and Technology (2014–2018)

Following her re-election in the 2014 general election, Zuma announced that Pandor would return to the Department of Science and Technology.[28][29] Malusi Gigaba succeeded her as Minister of Home Affairs.[30] She took office on 26 May 2014 and succeeded Derek Hanekom.[14][31][32]

Minister of Higher Education and Training (2018–2019)

Cyril Ramaphosa assumed the office of President in February 2018. Pandor was appointed Minister of Higher Education and Training and took office on 27 February 2018, succeeding Hlengiwe Mkhize.[33][34][35]

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (2019–present)

Pandor at the 2021 G20 Rome summit

After the 2019 general election, the Ministry of Higher Education and Training was split. Pandor was speculated to be appointed Deputy President of South Africa.[36] She was Ramaphosa's original choice for Deputy President back in 2017 at the ANC's elective conference.[37] She was instead appointed Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and assumed office on 30 May 2019.[38]

In response to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Pandor and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation were initially critical of the invasion and released a statement, in which they called on Russia to withdraw its forces in Ukraine immediately. Ramaphosa was reportedly unhappy with Pandor and the department's statement, because it contradicted South Africa's position that negotiation was needed to end the war.[39] Pandor later backtracked on her position, toeing the party line instead.[40]

On 10 March 2022, Pandor said that she supported the idea of a single African currency to increase intra-continental trade.[41]

In September 2022, Pandor stood in for Ramaphosa at the Seventy-seventh session of the United Nations General Assembly after he had decided to return to South Africa due to the ongoing electricity crisis after his working visit in Washington, D.C. In her address to the assembly, Pandor said that all ongoing wars and conflicts around the world should be given equal attention.[42] She also called for Israel to be held accountable for its "destructive actions" in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, for the embargo against Cuba to be lifted and echoed the African Union's call for sanctions against Zimbabwe to be lifted.[43]

Pandor was one of a number of sitting cabinet ministers who unsuccessfully sought re-election to the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress at the party's 55th National Conference in December 2022.[44]

Pandor at a BRICS meeting in 2022

Reacting to the ICC arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin, Pandor criticized the International Criminal Court (ICC) for not having what she called an "evenhanded approach" to all leaders responsible for violations of international law.[45] South Africa, which failed in its obligation to arrest visiting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in June 2015, invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to the 15th BRICS Summit of leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in August 2023. In May 2023, Pandor announced that she had approved diplomatic immunity for Vladimir Putin and his officials so that they could attend the 15th BRICS Summit despite the ICC arrest warrant.[46]

On 12 November 2023, Pandor called on the ICC to speed up its investigation of Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip and that she expects the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.[47]

Personal life

Pandor is married to Sharif Joseph Pandor, whom she met while studying in Botswana, and they have four children together.

She converted to Islam after she met her husband. Her in-laws gave her the Islamic name of Nadia. On her religious conversion, Pandor said: "My parents said God is God. As long as you worship Him we will support you and the Islamic principles are universal. Certainly, Islam demands much more of you in terms of observance."[48]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Ministers". Mail & Guardian. 1 December 2005. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Meet Mbeki's 'delivery' team". IOL. 29 April 2004. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  3. ^ "Jacob Zuma announces cabinet choices". Politicsweb. 10 May 2009. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  4. ^ "Cabinet reshuffle on cards". IOL. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  5. ^ Nicolson, Greg (26 May 2014). "Who's Who of the Zuma's new Cabinet". The Daily Maverick. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  6. ^ Hunter, Qaanitah (26 February 2018). "Ramaphosa swings the axe, cuts 13 from Zuma's Cabinet". TimesLIVE. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  7. ^ "Calls mount for SA to appoint female deputy president". eNCA. 23 May 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  8. ^ Du Plessis, Carien (31 May 2019). "Diplomats hail Naledi Pandor's new International Relations job". The Daily Maverick. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  9. ^ "Former deputy minister Joe Matthews dies". Mail & Guardian. 19 August 2010.
  10. ^ "Minister Naledi Pandor's father, Joe Matthews, dies". South African Government. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g "Higher education's Naledi Pandor caps string of qualifications with doctorate". TimesLIVE. 16 April 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  12. ^ Petersen, Tammy (16 April 2019). "Minister Pandor walks the walk, graduating with PhD in Education". News24. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  13. ^ "LOOK: 'She continues to inspire us': Naledi Pandor awarded PhD". IOL. Pretoria, Gauteng. 16 April 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d e f "EXPLAINER: Who is Naledi Pandor?". eNCA. 6 November 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  15. ^ "Mbeki's cabinet list". News24. 28 April 2004. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  16. ^ "Own-language schooling, for free". Brand South Africa. 18 May 2005. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  17. ^ "Motlanthe sworn in as interim president". Mail & Guardian. 25 September 2008. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  18. ^ "President Motlanthe's new cabinet". Brand South Africa. 26 September 2008. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  19. ^ Rossouw, Mandy (10 May 2009). "Zuma's Cabinet: Those who didn't make the cut". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  20. ^ "South Africa Cabinet Members 2009 to 2010". South African History Online. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  21. ^ Tshivhidzo, Edwin (31 March 2010). "SA will win bid to host SKA - Pandor". SA News. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  22. ^ Davies, Richard (15 February 2012). "South Africa eyes SKA telescope with bated breath". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  23. ^ "President Zuma congratulates Minister of Science and Technology on winning the bid to host the SKA". South African Government. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  24. ^ Maasho, Aaron (16 July 2012). "Dlamini-Zuma elected to head AU Commission". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  25. ^ "Pandor appointed acting home affairs minister". Mail & Guardian. 2 October 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  26. ^ Maharaj, Mac (3 October 2012). "Naledi Pandor appointed Home Affairs minister - Presidency". Politicsweb. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  27. ^ "Pandor to be president for a day". News24. 29 October 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  28. ^ "Complete list of cabinet ministers". eNCA. 25 May 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  29. ^ "Zuma shakes things up with new Cabinet". eNCA. 25 May 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  30. ^ Peyper, Lindsey (31 March 2017). "Gigaba in hot seat as new Finance Minister". News24. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  31. ^ Quintal, Genevieve (26 May 2014). "Marathon swearing-in for Zuma's Cabinet". IOL. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  32. ^ "Zuma names new cabinet". The Sowetan. 26 May 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  33. ^ Rabkin, Franny; Pather, Ra'eesa (26 February 2018). "New deputy president, finance minister announced in major Cabinet reshuffle". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 24 September 2019. Minister of Higher education - Naledi Pandor
  34. ^ "Who is in and who is out: Ramaphosa's Cabinet reshuffle". News24. 26 February 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  35. ^ "IN FULL Ramaphosa hires and fires - read his Cabinet reshuffle speech". TimesLIVE. 26 February 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  36. ^ "Dlamini-Zuma, Pandor tipped to become deputy president". News24. 22 May 2019. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  37. ^ Nicolson, Greg (18 December 2017). "#ANCdecides2017: The Top Six that could have been". The Daily Maverick. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  38. ^ "Introducing the executives Cyril Ramaphosa has chosen to serve SA". BusinessDay. 30 May 2019. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  39. ^ Tandwa, Lizeka (28 February 2022). "Top ANC officials to discuss SA's stance on Russia-Ukraine war". The Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  40. ^ Gerber, Jan (1 March 2022). "Pandor toes party line on Ukraine and punts diplomacy in address to UN". News24. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  41. ^ Felix, Jason (10 March 2022). "SA wants single African currency to boost intra-continental trade". Fin24. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  42. ^ "Naledi Pandor at UN: All wars matter". TimesLIVE. Retrieved 23 September 2022.
  43. ^ Williams, Chad (22 September 2022). "Pandor echoes AU's calls for sanctions to be dismantled against Zimbabwe at UN General Assembly". Retrieved 23 September 2022.
  44. ^ Chetty, Kuben (23 December 2022). "Ramaphosa's Cabinet reshuffle expected to introduce new blood". Retrieved 27 December 2022.
  45. ^ "South Africa Mulls Options After ICC's Putin Arrest Order". VOA News. 28 March 2023.
  46. ^ Masuabi, Queenin; Peter Fabricius (29 May 2023). "South Africa grants Putin diplomatic immunity for BRICS summit". Daily Maverick.
  47. ^ "Netanyahu should be arrested: South Africa's foreign minister". Al Jazeera. 12 November 2023.
  48. ^ Govender, Prega (19 May 2019). "Humble and willing to learn: Naledi Pandor is leading by example". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
Political offices Preceded byLindiwe Sisulu Minister of International Relations and Cooperation 2019–present Incumbent Preceded byHlengiwe Mkhize Minister of Higher Education and Training 2018–2019 Succeeded byMinistry split Preceded byDerek Hanekom Minister of Science and Technology 2014–2018 Succeeded byNkhensani Kubayi-Ngubane Preceded byNkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Minister of Home Affairs 2012–2014 Succeeded byMalusi Gigaba Preceded byMosibudi Mangena Minister of Science and Technology 2009–2012 Succeeded byDerek Hanekom Preceded byKader Asmal Minister of Education 2004–2009 Succeeded byMinistry split Preceded byMosiuoa Lekota Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces 1999–2004 Succeeded byJoyce Kgoali
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Naledi Pandor
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