Naledi Pandor is the current Minister of Science and Technology; she succeeded Derek Hanekom and assumed office on the 25th of May, 2014 under President Jacob Zuma.
Interestingly, she previously held this office from 2009 to 2012 until she was succeeded by Derek Hanekom.
Naledia Pandor, who is a member of African National Congress, has had a long and well developed career in politics. She has held two other ministerial positions.
She was the Minister of Home Affairs from the 4th of October, 2012 to the 25th of May, 2014. She was then succeeded by Malusi Gigaba.
But from 12th May, 2004 to the 10th of May, 2009, she served as the Minister of Education.
Prior to that, Naledi Pandor served as the Chairperson for the National Council of Provinces from June 1999 to May 2004.
Naledi Pandor’s full name is Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor. She was born on the 7th of December, 1953, in Durban, South Africa.
Her grandfather is the respected lawyer, teacher, anthropologist, reformist and anti-apartheid activist – Z.K. Matthews. Her grandfather was also a member of the African National Congress where he was Cape President.
Her father was also a political activist and his involvement in politics led to him being exiled from 1961 to 1984 which granted Naledi a chance at an international education.
Naledi Pandor received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Botswana and Swaziland.
She later gained her Masters’ degree in Education from the University of London.
She also studied at the Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania in the United States of America where she graduated with a Diploma in Higher Education, Administration and Leadership in 1992.
She attended Harvard University while she was serving as a member of parliament. From Harvard, she graduated with a Diploma in Leadership in Development at the Kennedy School of Government.
She graduated with another Masters’ degree from University of Stellenbosch in 1997; this time her MA was in Linguistics.
Naledi Pandor has received honorary doctorates from both the University of Stellenbosch and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
She was also the first female chancellor of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
Naledi is married to Sharif Joseph Pandor.
Naledi Pandor met her husband in Botswana while she was still in school. She converted to Islam during the course of their relationship.
Her parents were supportive of her choice to convert religions. On the matter, Naledi said, “My parents said God is God. As long as you worship Him we will support you.”
Her Islamic name is Nadia, which was given to her by her in-laws.
Naledi and her husband have four children together – Aisha, Fazlur, Haroon and Suraya.
An overview of her career has been mentioned above.
While we are all very conversant with her length careers as a politician, very few know she started out as a teacher and lecturer.
In 1980, she taught at the Ernest Bevin School in London.
She continued teaching in Gaberone in Botswana from 1981 to 1984. From 1984 to 1986, she became a lecturer at the Taung College of Education.
From 1986 to 1989, she worked as a senior lecturer in English at the University of Bophuthatswana (which is now the North-West University).
She continued as a senior lecturer at the University of Cape Town from 1989 to 1994.
In 1994, Naledi Pandor became a Member of Parliament – the beginning of her political career.
From 1995 to 1998, Naledi served as Chief Whip for the African National Congress’s National Assembly.
In 1998, she was the deputy chairperson of the National Council of Provinces; she was appointed as chairperson of the council by President Thabo Mbeki from 1999-2004.
Her extensive background in Education and leadership contributed to her appointment as Minister of Education from 2004-2009, serving under President Thabo Mbeki and President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Naledi Pandor later served as South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Science and Technology as mentioned above. She was appointed as Minister of Home Affairs after Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma resigned in order to become Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
She was appointed as Minister of Science and Technology by President Jacob Zuma in 2009. She returned to position following President’s Zuma’s 2014 re-election.