GOVERNANCE / Nomvula Mokonyane

Nomvula Mokonyane

Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation, South Africa

A veteran of the struggle, Mokonyane participated actively in the fight against apartheid from the tender age of fifteen. A founder member of the Congress of South African Students, she was an organiser in the Federation of Transvaal Women and a leader of the Kagiso Residents’ Organisation. She was also active in trade unions as a shop steward and leader of the Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union of South Africa (now Saccawu). During this period, she was continually harassed and detained by the apartheid security police.

Nomvula Paula Mokonyane, Premier of Gauteng Province, was born on 28 June 1963 in the West Rand township of Kagiso. She is the youngest in a family of 12, with six sisters and five brothers. She matriculated at Masupatsela High School, Kagiso. She is a Catholic and still an active member of her social networking club.

Growing up in the struggle

Since the advent of democracy in South Africa in 1994, Mokonyane has served in a number of leadership positions in the ANC and its Alliance structures, including being a member of the Central Committee of the SA Communist Party; Executive Committee Member of the ANC Women’s League and National Executive Committee member of the ANC.

Wealth of experience in governance

Mokonyane served in the Gauteng Legislature from 1994 in various portfolio committees before she was appointed MEC of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment in 1996. She became MEC for Safety and Liaison from 1999 to 2004, and was appointed Housing MEC between 2004 and 2009.

As MEC for Agriculture, Conservation and Environment, she:

  • Championed the process that led to the famous Sterkfontein caves, home of some of the oldest fossil hominids in the world, being awarded the status of a World Heritage Site.  

As the MEC for Safety and Liaison, she:

  • Established three Metro Police structures; 
  • Established Victim Support Centres at police stations; 
  • Established a One-Stop Centre at a provincial level in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, for victims of sexual offences and domestic violence, called Ikhaya le Themba, ‘Home of Hope’; 
  • Contributed to programmes to improve the quality of life of people.

As MEC of Housing, she was responsible for:

  • Championing housing delivery;  
  • Promoting and fostering partnerships; 
  • Promoting women-driven enterprises in the construction and housing sector; and 
  • Leading the Twenty Priority Township Programme – the renewal of Gauteng’s old townships

She received training in Local Government and Planning Management and Community Development in Sweden. She completed a certificate course in Emerging Economics at the Wharton Business School at Pennsylvania University, and studied leadership and governance at Harvard University in the USA.

Upon her appointment as Premier, she re-organised the Gauteng provincial administration, including a planning department. “In order to ensure that government is able to deliver on its mandate, we will establish a planning commission… [to] ensure long term planning, effective co-ordination and most importantly, to strengthen monitoring and evaluation in government, including resource allocation,” she said. She also announced that women would feature strongly in her executive. “I am pleased to announce that there are more women in the Gauteng cabinet than before,” she said.


Mokonyane firmly believes in collective leadership and teamwork, which accords with the ANC’s 2009 election slogan: “Working together, we can do more”.