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Joseph (Joe) Mbuku Nhlanhla (1936 - )

The Order of Luthuli in

Joseph (Joe) Mbuku Nhlanhla (1936 - ) Awarded for:
His lifetime contribution to the struggle for a non-racial, non-sexist, free and democratic South Africa.

Profile of Joseph (Joe) Mbuku Nhlanhla

Joseph Mbuku Nhlanhla was born in Johannesburg in 1936. As a young man, he was a member of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League structures in Alexandra. By the 1950s, he emerged as a national leader within the organisation.

When the State of Emergency was declared in 1960, he was one of the first people to be detained, and after his release without charge, he was "restricted" by Ministerial decree to the magisterial area of Johannesburg.

In 1964, Nhlanhla left South Africa for Tanzania after which he was selected by the ANC to study Economics at the Plekhanov Institute in Moscow.

After completing his studies in 1969, he returned to Tanzania to serve as head of the ANC’s youth and student structures.

In 1973, he was appointed as the ANC’s Chief Representative in Egypt and the Middle East during which time he represented the ANC on the Afro- Asian People’s Solidarity Organisation, the forerunner of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Nhlanhla, a long-serving member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC, served on the National Preparatory Committee which prepared for the return of the ANC to South Africa. He was part of the ANC delegation at the Groote Schuur talks in May 1990, which opened negotiations with the South African Government.

During the Convention for a Democratic South Africa negotiations, Nhlanhla played a key role in smoothing over difficulties relating to the interim Government and the future of the intelligence services.

Nhlanhla was elected as Member of Parliament in the first democratic Parliament in 1994 and was appointed Deputy Minister for Intelligence Services in February 1995. In 1999, he was appointed by President Thabo Mbeki as Minister for Intelligence Services, a position he held until he was no longer able to due to ill health.

Nhlanhla’s life speaks of his dedication to the cause of freedom of his people. He pursued the challenge of creating a better life for all South Africans, both Black and White, through his unwavering commitment of over half a century to advancing the climate for negotiations and peace.