Maite Nkoana Mashabane
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation
Date of Birth: 30/09/1963
Place of Birth: Limpopo
South Africa is now a junior member of BRICS, the group of emerging economies that in some heady assessments will tilt the balance of global power. President Jacob Zuma and his team met their counterparts from Brazil, Russia and India when China hosted their first summit in April in Hainan. Another summit is due later this year.
Managing this increased profile will be a challenge for Zuma’s economic and foreign policy team. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane heads the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation. A Zuma ally but a surprise appointment, Nkoana-Mashabane is not bereft of overseas experience, having spent a decade as South Africa’s Ambassador to Malaysia (1995-1999) and India (1999-2005). She was born in 1963 in Magoebaskloof in Limpopo Province. She rose through the African National Congress ranks in Limpopo, where she chaired the ANC Women’s League from 1992 to 1995.
After stints overseas, Nkoana-Mashabane returned home as ANC Deputy Secretary General and then Provincial Convener of the Limpopo chapter of the Progressive Women’s Movement. She joined the ANC National Executive Committee and National Working Committee in 2007, and held a seat on the 2010 FIFA World Cup organising committee. Her late husband was Norman Mashabane, a former Ambassador to Indonesia, whose final years were dogged by sexual harassment charges. She has held her current job since May 2009, when she succeeded Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.