Nomvula Mokonyane

Nomvula Paula Mokonyane was the Minister of Environmental Affairs in South Africa, appointed on 22 November 2018 under President Cyril Ramaphosa. She was first appointed to the cabinet of South Africa in May 2014 under President Jacob Zuma, serving as Minister in the Department of Water and Sanitation, and became Minister of Communication under President Cyril Ramaphosa in January 2018. Prior to serving in Cabinet, she was the Premier of Gauteng province, elected following the 2009 South African general election. She is also Honorary President of SA-China People's Friendship Association.

Early life

Mokonyane was born in the West Rand township of Kagiso, the youngest in a family of 12, with six sisters and five brothers. She matriculated at Mosupatsela High School, Kagiso. She is a Catholic and still an active member of her social networking club.

Early political career

Her political career began in the early 1980s as a student activist. During that period she became a member of the Young Christian Students and a founder member of the Congress of South African Students. She was also the publicity secretary of the Krugersdorp branch of the United Democratic Front and an organiser of the Federation of Transvaal Women, an organisation that supported the families of detainees and the youth in their fight for democratic student representative councils.
Because of her political activities, Mokonyane was continuously harassed and detained by the apartheid security police. After the unbanning of political organisations in 1990, Mokonyane was involved in the re-establishment of the ANC and SACP structures.

Political career

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. Mokonyane is also a member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress elected at the 52nd national conference in 2007 in Polokwane.

Premier of Gauteng

Following the South African general election, Mokonyane was sworn in as Premier of Gauteng on 6 May 2009, becoming Gauteng's first female premier. She succeeded outgoing Premier Paul Mashatile. Upon her appointment as Premier, she re-organised the Gauteng provincial administration, including a planning department. Her selection by the NEC came as a surprise given that the incumbent Paul Mashatile was widely expected to retain the post. The ANC decides nationally on premiers and then instructs provincial MPLs to elect their nominee in the official election.
Prior to the 2014 general election, Mokonyane was not placed first on the ANC's list for Provincial Legislature. Following the elections, the ANC won 53% of the Provincial vote and she was subsequently succeeded as Premier by David Makhura, the provincial secretary of the ANC. This followed harsh criticisms of Mokonyane after she had addressed the Bekkersdal community following protests in the area, saying that the ANC doesn't want their "dirty votes". The comment was widely criticised by the community and public. The ANC Youth League was among the most prominent critics of the decision, and indeed called on the ruling party to reconsider and reappoint Mashatile, who had earlier taken over from Mbhazima Shilowa on the latter's defection from the ANC to form the breakaway party Congress of the People.

Minister of Water and Sanitation

On 25 May 2014, Mokonyane was appointed Minister of Water and Sanitation, a new Ministry created to combat water issues and serious sanitation problems across the country. Mokonyane was not at the time a Member of Parliament, but the Constitution of South Africa allows for two ministers to be appointed from outside the National Legislature. In June 2014, Mokonyane visited Bloemhof, in the Lekwa-Teemane Local Municipality in the North West Province, following an outbreak of diarrhoea in the area thought to be linked to dirty drinking water.


As Water and Sanitation Minister, Mokonyane headed South Africa's Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which is in its second phase. Original timelines stated that the project would be completed in 2024 at a cost of R22 billion. However, due to delays ordered by Mokonyane, the date of completion has been moved to 2025, and the budget has escalated to R26 billion. The only source of funding for this project is the taxpayer. In response to accusations of maladministration, Mokonyane has stated that she delayed the project for reasons of transformation - more black-owned companies should be involved.
A report by City Press found that a single company, LTE Consulting, has been awarded contracts worth R5 billion in a single year, all dealing with water and sanitation. LTE had also donated up to R3.5 million to the ANC in only two months. Should LTE join the project, they stand to make R2.6 billion. Officials involved in the Lesotho Highlands Project, and who denied LTE tenders, have since been replaced.
A second controversy in which Mokonyane found herself related to the merger of two of South Africa's powerful water boards, the Umgeni and Mhlathuze boards, both in KwaZulu-Natal. This action was taken despite the misgivings of the South African Treasury. Mokonyane appointed Dudu Myeni to oversee the merger.
In 2019, former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi testified to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that Mokonyane was paid R50 000 a month for years to protect the company from law enforcement agencies.