Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe

Photo of: Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe

Profile of the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe




Mr Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe was born to a working class family on 19 July 1949 in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg. Most of his childhood was spent in Alexandra Township while much of his adult life was spent in Meadowlands, Soweto.


Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa


Mr Motlanthe was appointed by President Jacob Zuma as Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa on 11May 2009.


In terms of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa the Deputy President is appointed to assist the President in the execution of the functions of Government.


During this term of office, in addition to any other functions that the President may assign to the Deputy President, the Deputy President has the following responsibilities:


·         Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly


The leader of Government Business in the National Assembly is responsible for the affairs of the Executive in Parliament.  He liaises with the office bearers of Parliament and ensures that there are good working relations between the Executive and Parliament.


·         Leader of the Anti-Poverty Programme


The Anti-Poverty Programme is an initiative by Government to fight poverty through targeted delivery of services to poor households; identifying change agents that can help poor households move out of extreme poverty; and improvement of intergovernmental co-operation and co-ordination in service delivery.


·         Chairperson of the Energy Advisory Council


The Energy Advisory Council brings together Government and other key stakeholders to promote responsible use of energy and to find sustainable ways of future electricity generation.


·         Chairperson of the Human Resource Development Council


The Human Resource Development Council is a multiple-stakeholder body that advises Government on sector mobilisation and on a Human Resource Development Strategy.   The Council focuses on co-ordinating programmes that include career-guidance, setting targets for identified professions and building strong relations with academics, higher education institutions and industry.


·         Chairperson of the South African National Aids Council


The South African National Aids Council is a national body that has been established to advice Government on appropriate strategies and plans in response to HIV and AIDS.  The Council embodies the concept of partnership, and comprises representatives of civil society and Government. 


·         International Relations and Co-operation


The Deputy President plays a significant role in South Africa’s international relations programmes.  The Deputy President co-chairs a number of bi-national commissions formed with countries with which South Africa has strategic relations.  The Deputy President works closely with the Department of International Relations and Co-operation in strengthening and consolidating bilateral relations with other countries.


·         2010 FIFA World Cup


Mr Motlanthe led Government’s Inter-Ministerial Committee that oversaw South Africa’s preparations for the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.


Previous State Responsibilities


Mr Motlanthe became a Member of Parliament in July 2008, and, during that time was appointed as Minister in The Presidency.  On 25 September he was elected as President of the Republic of South Africa after the resignation of former President Thabo Mbeki. 


As this was during South Africa’s tenure as Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Mr Motlanthe assumed the role of Chairperson of the regional body.  Working in collaboration with other SADC leaders, he oversaw the implementation of Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement.


Mr Motlanthe also joined other world leaders in the G20 and other multilateral bodies to appropriately respond to the global financial crisis.  At home he worked with organised business, labour and civil society to minimise the impact of the crisis on South Africa’s economy.


Political Party involvement


In the 1970s, while working for the Johannesburg City Council, he was recruited into Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the then armed wing of the ANC. He was part of a unit tasked with recruiting members for military training.


The unit was later instructed to transform its function from recruitment to sabotage. While some members of the unit left the country, he and others remained in the country to establish such machinery.  Their unit was also involved in smuggling MK cadres in and out of the country via Swaziland.


On 14 April 1976 Motlanthe was arrested for furthering the aims of the ANC and was kept in detention for 11 months at John Vorster Square in central Johannesburg.


In 1977 he was found guilty on three charges under Terrorism Act and sentenced to an effective 10 years imprisonment on Robben Island.


After his release in 1987, Mr Motlanthe was tasked with strengthening the trade union movement in the country.


To this end, he worked for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) as a national office bearer responsible for education. Among other things, he was involved in training workers to form shopsteward committees.


In 1990 when the banning on the ANC and other political organisations was lifted, Mr Motlanthe was tasked with re-establishing ANC structures in the Gauteng Province.   


In 1992 he was elected General Secretary of NUM, succeeding Cyril Ramaphosa who had been elected Secretary General of the ANC.


Mr Motlanthe served two five year terms as Secretary General of the ANC from December 1997 to December 2007.  As Secretary General he was responsible for the overall operations of the organisation and ensuring that all its structures, including the ANC Women’s League and the ANC Youth League, functioned well.  


As Secretary General he was also responsible for the organisation’s international relations programme, which entailed strengthening and consolidating relations with international political bodies and fraternal organisations in foreign countries.


Mr Motlanthe was the Deputy President of the African National Congress during the period December 2007 – December 2012.


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