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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Naidoo, Jayaseelan 'Jay'

Click here for list of interviews

Jay Naidoo was born on 20th December 1954. He was active in the student protests in the 1970's in the South African Students Organisation established by Steve Biko. He had to leave university because of his role in the student rebellion.

He joined the fledgling trade union movement in 1979 as a volunteer organiser and rose through the ranks to become the General Secretary of the most powerful labour movement in the history of SA, the Congress of SA Trade Unions, with over a million organised members. He played a key role in mobilising resistance against apartheid and creating the climate for negotiations.

In 1993 Naidoo was elected by the Federation, with 20 other labour leaders, to stand on the list for the African National Congress (ANC) led by Nelson Mandela as it contested for power in the first democratic election. He worked as the co-ordinator of the Reconstruction and Development Programme which was the joint programme of all the progressive forces and the election platform for the ANC in 1994. After the election he was appointed by President Mandela to be the Minister working from the Presidency to implement the Reconstruction and Development Programme.

In 1996 he was made Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Broadcasting. As the minister he led the biggest privatisation in South Africa involving selling of 30% of the state operator to a strategic equity partner of SBC Communications and Malaysia Telecom for $1,2 billion. The sale also imposed the obligation on the partner to deliver three million new lines, to digitise the network and to connect every village, school, clinic, hospital and post office in the country at a cost of $10 billion.

He brought together African Telecommunications ministers to create a policy framework to spread African connectivity. The result was the development of the African Connection strategy. In 1999 he stepped out of politics to focus on both private and public initiatives to build sustainable development and use technology in an innovative way.

Jay Naidoo is currently the Chairman of the Development Bank of Southern Africa, a key development Finance Institution driving the expansion of social and economic infrastructure in the SADC region. He is also the Chairman of the Global Alliance to Improve Nutrition (GAIN), an organisation headquartered in Switzerland and focusing on fortification of basic foods with micronutrients across the developing world, as well as Chairman of J&J Group, a company that has interests in IT, Financial Services, Industrial sectors.

He has served in various capacities as a member of the Advisory Committee set up by UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan on ICT, and currently as a member of the ITU Advisory Committee on the World Telecommunications Forum. He chairs an advisory working group to the Minister of Provincial and Local Government, Mr Sydney Mufamadi. He also serves as a Trustee on the Lovelife Trust.

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.