Profiles of South African Women

Phuti Malabie

Phuti Malabie is considered one of the most influential women in government and business in South Africa, having been CEO (2010-2015) of Shaduka Group, a leading investment holding company. The Wall Street Journal named her one of the “Top 50 Women in the World to Watch” in 2008, and Forbes has called her one of the 20 youngest powerful people in Africa and named her “Africa Business Woman of the Year” in 2014.

Malabie was born in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1971. Her father was a successful businessman and cofounder of National Sorghum Breweries. In 1976, as the country was in political turmoil, her parents moved her and her younger sister to Lesotho. She graduated with a degree in economics from Rutgers University in New Jersey and earned her M.B. A. from De Montfort University in Great Britain, where she studied the impact of international trade on black economic power.

During her 10 years at Shanduka, Malabie was responsible for bringing the Chinese Investment Corporation (CIC) into South Africa and getting it to make its first direct investment in the country, including a 25 percent ownership in Shanduka. She also brokered other powerful partnerships that expanded the company’s portfolio and skills in the electrical power sector.

Malabie decided it was time to leave Shanduka in 2015, when the company merged with Pembani—a private equity firm that invests in the energy sector, mineral resources, and infrastructure industries—and Cyril Ramaphosa, Shanduka’s founder, resigned. Malabie started her own investment firm, Sigma Capital.

In a 2013 interview, Malabie was asked about her hopes for the future. She responded by saying that she hoped the government would find ways to successfully deal with the high unemployment rates and lack of skills of young people. She also said she hoped that the growth in black-owned companies translated into sustainable businesses that in turn contributed to society.


Lihle Mtshali, But home is where Phuti Malabie’s heart is and South Africa remains her country of choice, Sowetan Live, Johannesburg, South Africa, May 07, 2007,

http: //www .sowetanlive sowetan/ archive/2007/05/07/but- home-is-where-phuti-malabie_s-heart-is-and-south-africa-remains-her- country-of-choice

(accessed November 7, 2016), Phuti Malabie, May 13, 2011 13/(accessed November 7, 2016)

Martin Creamer, Mining Personality Phuti Mahanyele,

Mining Weekly, May 3, 2013, London, UK 03(accessed November 7, 2016)

CNBC Africa, Phuti Mahanyele quits after a decade at Shanduka

February 23, 2015 shanduka-mahanyele-resignation/(accessed November 7, 2016)

Baleka Mbete

A teacher, poet, and activist linked to the Black Consciousness Movement, Baleka Mbete has served the ANC and South Africa in a variety of roles and positions. She went into exile in 1976, leaving behind two young children. Upon her return to South Africa, Mbete was elected Secretary- General of the ANC Women’s League and served on the party’s National Executive Committee.

In 1994, she was elected to Parliament and participated in the selection of candidates to serve on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She became the deputy speaker of the National Assembly in 1996, serving in this role for eight years before becoming speaker for four years. In 2007, she was elected the first female ANC national chairperson holding that post until the 2014 national elections, when she returned as speaker.

Her service to the ANC and the country has not been without controversy. Allegations against her have ranged from obtaining an illegal driver’s license; the Travelgate scandal, involving 40 members of Parliament accused of illegally using government travel vouchers to take expensive vacations for themselves and family, where she returned the money she received; throwing out a members of Parliament from an opposition party who questioned if a former ANC minister was guilty of theft; and accusations, while serving as ANC national chairwoman, of receiving a bribe in the form of R25 million in shares and dividends from Gold Fields. (For the latter, Parliament cleared her of any wrongdoing because she wasn’t a member of that body when she received the shares and dividends.)

Mbete continues to be criticized, even by President Zuma, for the way Parliament is being run and her perceived partiality toward the ANC in her rulings and how she presides over the House. She stood down an attempted vote of no confidence in September 2014 by members of the opposition parties who accused her of losing control over Parliament proceedings.

In April 2016, in what has been described as one of the most “shameful events in Parliamentary history,” police forcibly removed opposition leaders from the EFF while raising questions about allegations ofcorruption against President Zuma. Fists and bottles began to fly as the MPs were removed.

Mbete’s tactics on the removal of the members of the EFF and her lack of control over the proceedings have led to increased criticism and a lack of confidence among many people in her ability to effectively run Parliament.

Yet despite those challenges, Baleka Mbete is poised to be the next ANC presidential candidate.


Ranjeni Munuanjen, Baleka Mbete: Madam Speaker, Madam President?, Daily Maverick, April 20, 2016, Benmore, South Africa madam-speaker-madam-president/#.WCHSfOErJBw (accessed November 8, 2016)

Greg Nicolson, Baleka Mbete: In the centre of the maelstrom, Daily Maverick, April 20, 2016, Benmore, South Africa in-the-centre-of-the-maelstrom/#.WCHVEeErJBw (accessed November 8, 2016)

Crystal Orderson, South Africa’s opposition reject an ‘utterly discredited and illegitimate president,’” The Africa Report, May 6, 2016, Paris, France opposition-reject-an-utterly-discredited-and-illegitimate-president.html (accessed November 8, 2016)

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