When you think of women who have made an exceptional impact on the sphere of South African politics, then Lindiwe Sisulu comes to mind. The renowned South African politician currently serves as the country’s Minister of Human Settlements, Water & Sanitation. She boasts an impressive resume and has held several strategic positions in South Africa. Notable among them include serving as the Minister of Human Settlements (2014-2018); Deputy Minister of Home Affairs (1996-2001), and Minister of Intelligence under President Thabo Mbeki (2001-2004), etc.
Asides politics, Lindiwe is also a women’s rights activist and prolific writer. She has released several publications and has also recorded a few awards in her name. Join us as we take you through her biography, educational background, and personal life below.
Who is Lindiwe Sisulu and How Old is She?
Born as Lindiwe Nonceba Sisulu on the 10th of May 1954, Lindiwe is the daughter of African National Congress Leaders and anti-apartheid activists – Albertina Sisulu and Walter Sisulu. She is not the only child of her parents as she was raised alongside her two older brothers – Zwelakhe Sisulu and politician Max Sisulu.
Coming from a family well-grounded in politics, Lindiwe’s brother Zwelakhe established himself as a well-known black journalist. Born in 1950, Zwelakhe, however, kicked the bucket in 2012. Before his demise, he had previously served as the CEO of South African Broadcasting Corporation, as well as the president of the Black Media Writers of South Africa. Her other brother Max, is a well-known politician and the former speaker of the South African National Assembly. The three siblings spent their formative years in their hometown, Johannesburg.
Educational Background and Early Career
While she was growing, Lindiwe Sisulu completed her basic education in Johannesburg. Afterward, she enrolled at Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa, Swaziland, where she graduated from in 1973.
From there, she proceeded to the University of Swaziland. There, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education in 1990 and B.A. Hons in History, the following year. She studied further, thus acquiring a Master’s degree in History. However, in 1989, she also got an MPhil from the University of York, England.
During her college days, Lindiwe was arrested and detained from 1975 to 1976, following her anti-apartheid activities. She later joined the military branch of the African National Congress, where she specialized in intelligence.
More so, in the mid-80s, Sisulu began her career, working as a teacher at Manzini Teachers Training College. In the year 1990, she was made an assistant to Jacob Zuma in the ANC’s intelligence services.
Lindiwe Sisulu’s Government Career
The outstanding intelligence officer began her government career when she became a member of parliament in 1994. She got her first government appointment in 1996, working as the deputy minister of home affairs. She served in that capacity until 2001, when she was made the Minister of Intelligence by President Thabo Mbeki, serving through 2004.
Later in 2004, she succeeded Rob Davies as Minister of Housing; a position she held until 2009. In the new dispensation, Lindiwe was picked by Jacob Zuma to serve as the Minister of Defense and Military Veterans; a post she held from 2009 to 2012.
Her unparalleled records kept her soaring high as she climbs her career ladder. She went on to serve as the Minister of Public Service and Administration from 2012 to 2014. From there, she went back to the Ministry of Housing, now called the Ministry of Human Settlements, serving as its minister from 2014 to 2018.
In 2018, under the Presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa, Lindiwe Sisulu was made the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation. The following year, she was returned as Minister of Human Settlements, Water & Sanitation, a position she holds to date.
Since the inception of her career, Sisulu has got a good number of accolades for her outstanding performances. In 1992, she was awarded the Human Rights Center Fellowship in Geneva. 2004 saw her take home the Presidential Award for Housing Delivery from the Institute for Housing of South Africa. The following year, she also got the International Association for Housing Science Award.
See Also: Top 10 Richest Women In South Africa
Is She Married, Who are Her Husband & Children?
Lindiwe Sisulu was married to Prof. Rok Ajulu from 1996 to 2016. Her husband is a Kenyan academic and former professor at Witwatersrand University. Ajulu reportedly fled his country in the early 1980s, during the Moi repression when independent thinkers were targeted and attacked.
However, in recent times, he regularly visits his home country now that the political climate is relatively calm. He usually resides in Bondo, his hometown, whenever he visits Kenya. Promising to never forget his Kenyan roots, the professor still maintains close ties with his associates from the repression era: Raila Odinga – former Kenyan Prime Minister; James Orengo – senator for Siaya County, and Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o – the Governor for Kisumu County(and father to Lupita Nyong’o).
Through her marriage with Professor Rok Ajulu, Lindiwe has four children, including two sons named Che Samora Ajulu and Vuyo Sisulu, and two daughters – Ayanda Sisulu and Ntsiki Sisulu. Prior to their marriage, her husband also had a son named Achieng Ajulu Bushell from a previous relationship. They also five grandchildren.
Lindiwe Sisulu and her husband were married for twenty years. Sadly, her husband passed on December 26, 2016, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Ajulu died at the age of 66.