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Former minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson dies, aged 59

Former minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson dies, aged 59
Former minister Tina Joemat-Pertersson. (Photo: Gallo Images / Adrian de Kock)

Tina Joemat-Pettersson has been hailed for her work in the national government and Parliament — but she was also at the centre of several controversies.

Former energy minister and the chair of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, died on Monday at the age of 59. 

In a statement issued on Monday night, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Amos Masondo, said the untimely death of one of South Africa’s most seasoned politicians and legislators was a great loss not only to her family and political party, but the nation which she has served in various capacities.

“Ms Joemat-Pettersson’s passing has left us reeling with shock. She will be remembered as an astute politician who used her skills, talents, and knowledge to advance legislative work to change the lives of ordinary South Africans. She exuded great energy, passion and goodwill, and was not afraid to speak her mind. May her soul rest in peace,” the statement read.

Joemat-Pettersson died amid allegations that she was one of three MPs who had tried to extort R600,000 from suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s husband, Mandla Skosana. This would have allegedly been in return for making the Section 194 inquiry into Mkhwebane disappear. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s impeachment ship will sail on despite storm of wild bribery claims

Skosana has opened a case and the matter is being investigated. 

Joemat-Pettersson served as energy minister from 26 May 2014 until 30 March 2017 during former president Jacob Zuma’s tenure. 

During this time she signed an intergovernmental agreement with Russia’s state nuclear company, Rosatom to build reactors in South Africa with a total installed capacity of up to 9,600MW.

This was later set aside by a South African court, which declared the nuclear deal unlawful and unconstitutional.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Mokonyane’s supporters unhappy with ‘late’ Joemat-Pettersson challenge, vote for ANC leaders expected this morning

Joemat-Pettersson was involved in controversy again in 2016 when she was at the centre of the illegal sale of 10 million barrels of strategic oil reserves at far below market value.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Tina Joemat-Pettersson: Tainted figure will chart SA’s energy course

In her report titled Docked Vessels, released in 2014, then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela urged Zuma to take disciplinary action against Joemat-Pettersson during her time as agriculture minister.

Madonsela found that the awarding of a tender to Sekunjalo Marine Services Consortium (SMSC) by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was improper and irregular.

History of activism

Joemat-Pettersson, a former teacher, started her journey of activism as a member of the Azanian Students Organisation from 1985 to 1986. In 1992, she became the representative of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in the Northern Cape.

She held a bachelor’s degree in Executive Management in Education from the University of Cape Town. At the University of the Western Cape, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and History as well as a Higher Diploma in Education.

She was a teacher at several schools in Kimberley, including Pescodia Secondary and Homevale Secondary School.

Joemat-Pettersson became a member of the Northern Cape provincial legislature after South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.

She was elected chairperson of the ANC Women’s League in the Northern Cape in the late 1990s and also served as an SA Communist Party Central Committee member. She was the provincial treasurer of the ANC in the Northern Cape in the early 2000s. DM

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