Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi 2017


Geraldine Joslyn Fraser-Moleketi is a strong and passionate leader working towards the continent’s social and economic transformation.

She was born on the 24th of August 1960 in Cape Town and lived with her grandmother in Cross Roads on the Cape Flats during the week in order to attend Livingstone High School in Claremont where she matriculated. Weekends were with her parents in Faure near Stellenbosch where her father was principal of the State Children's Home.

In 1980 when Geraldine was in her second year at the University of the Western Cape, she joined the African National Congress (ANC) and left South Africa to go into exile in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola. She returned to South Africa in July 1990 when the South African Communist Party (SACP) was unbanned. That same year she was elected to the SACP’s Central Committee and served as Deputy Chairperson of the SACP from 1998 - 2002 - the first woman to hold that position.

Geraldine holds a Master’s Degree in Administration from the University of Pretoria. She is a fellow of the Institute of Politics, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and holds an honorary professorship at Stellenbosch University.

Geraldine’s democratic era achievements include playing a key role in preparing the ANC for the first democratic elections in 1994 as National Deputy Elections Coordinator. She was elected to South Africa’s first democratic parliament in April 1994 and served in three consecutive parliaments until her resignation in September 2008 - being Deputy Minister of Welfare and Population Development (1995 – 1996), Minister of Welfare and Population Development (1996 – 1999) and Minister of Public Service and Administration (1999 – 2008).

Geraldine serves on various boards across academia, government and development organisations. These include serving as a Board Member on UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research) and as Deputy Chair of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration. She has also served as Director of the United Nations Development Programme’s Democratic Governance Group. She is on the Advisory Board of the Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID) at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA).

As the Special Envoy on Gender at the African Development Bank from 2013 to 2017, she led a strategy to mainstream gender in the Bank’s policies and operations. She has championed women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion and has worked in inter-governmental structures, interacted with political leaders, business leaders and civil society.

Her career is characterised by commitment to sustainable, inclusive development and economic growth. She has received several awards including the OP Dwivedi Public Service Award from the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Public Administration, and a Special Award for Outstanding Achievement from University of Pretoria’s School of Public Management and Administration. She has always been actively involved in community work and has served as a patron of Free and Open Source Software for Africa (2007 to present). In 2016, she was named "New African Woman of the Year" as "one of the most influential women of the continent, paying tribute to all those who are changing the game in Africa and beyond."

A strong supporter of intergenerational dialogue, Geraldine is a mentor to young women and men across the continent on leadership and resilience, to enable them to play their part in determining Africa’s destiny. 

For her contribution to leadership in social and economic transformation with the specific emphasis on the empowerment of women, it is an honour for Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University to confer the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (honoris causa) on Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi.