About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Molefe, Popo Simon

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Popo Simon Molefe was born in 1952. From a young age he experienced the realities of poverty and apartheid brutality in South Africa. His father was a labourer and his mother a domestic worker. They supported eight children on their meagre salaries. Growing under these harsh conditions influenced Dr Molefe's political thinking and convinced him of the need to join the struggle for liberation. Struggle icons Nelson Mandela and Joe Gqabi also contributed towards shaping Molefe's political views.

His history of activism includes:

Ø     Joining the Black People's Convention (BPC) in 1973.

Ø     Becoming a member of the South African Students Movement (SASM) in 1974.

Ø     Playing an active role in planning the activities of the 1976 June 16 students' rebellion.

Ø     Playing a key role in the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF).

Ø     Serving as the National Secretary of the UDF in 1983.

Ø     Taking part in the underground activities of the African National Congress (ANC).

He was first detained in August 1976 and was imprisoned for seven months. He was again detained in 1981 and 1984. In 1985, together with 22 other activists, he was charged with, among others, high treason and became involved in one South Africa's longest political trials, the Delmas Treason Trial. Following the trial, Molefe was sentenced to a ten-year jail term in Robin Island. This sentence was, however, overturned by the Supreme Court in 1989.

While serving time in prison, he together with Ibrahim Ibrahim, Patrick Lekota, Tokyo Sexwale and the late Elias Motsoaledi were invited by Nelson Mandela to the Victor Vester Prison for consultations on the need for a negotiated settlement in South Africa. When Nelson Mandela was released on February 11 1990, Molefe was part of the national reception committee that received him from Victor Verster Prison.

After the unbanning of the ANC, he was appointed to the Internal Leadership Corps charged with the responsibility of re-organising the ANC under conditions of legality.

In March 1990, Molefe was part of the delegation that had talks with the government of FW de Klerk. These negotiations paved the way for South Africa's first democratic elections that were held on April 27 1994.

Molefe's achievements include:

Ø     Serving two terms as Premier of the North West Province and also as Chairperson of the ANC in the North West.

Ø     Being awarded the Harvard University Certificate for Conflict Resolution in 1990.

Ø     Obtaining a diploma in leadership from the Wharton School of Business attached to the Pennsylvania University and another diploma from the JFK School of Governance at Harvard University in 1996.

Ø     Awarded an honorary Doctorate by the University of the North West in 2001.

Molefe has taken part in many international conferences and is a recipient of a number of awards including the Professional Management Review Golden Arrow Award for the most admired political personality in the North West for the year 1999. On the 21st April 2001, the University of North West honoured him with an honorary doctorate in Philosophy.

He is currently a member of the ANC's National Executive Committee and is the Chairperson of the ANC's subcommittee on governance and legislatures.

He is the CEO of Lereko Investments (Pty) Ltd., Chairperson of Petro SA, and a board member of the Central Energy Fund and Strategic Fuel Fund. He was recently appointed to the boards of Xantium Technology Holdings Ltd and Anooraq Resources Corporation.

Dr Molefe is also the Chancellor of the North-West University.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.