Baleka Mbete

Baleka Mbete (born 24 September 1949) is a South African politician who served as the Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa from May 2014 to May 2019.[1][2] She was previously Speaker of the National Assembly from 2004 to 2008, and Deputy President of South Africa from 2008 to 2009 under Kgalema Motlanthe. She was elected National Chairperson of the African National Congress in 2007 and re-elected in 2012 and served until 18 December 2017.[3] On the 18th of December 2017, during the ANC's 54th conference, Gwede Mantashe was elected Mbete's successor as National Chairperson of the ANC.

Baleka Mbete
Baleka Mbete.jpg
2nd and 5th Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa
In office
21 May 2014 – 22 May 2019
PresidentJacob Zuma
Cyril Ramaphosa
Preceded byMax Sisulu
Succeeded byThandi Modise
In office
13 July 2004 – 25 September 2008
PresidentThabo Mbeki
Kgalema Motlanthe
Preceded byFrene Ginwala
Succeeded byGwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde
5th Deputy President of South Africa
In office
25 September 2008 – 9 May 2009
PresidentKgalema Motlanthe
Preceded byPhumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Succeeded byKgalema Motlanthe
National Chairperson of the African National Congress
In office
18 December 2007 – 18 December 2017
PresidentJacob Zuma
Cyril Ramaphosa
Succeeded byGwede Mantashe
Secretary-General of the African National Congress Women's League
In office
PresidentWinnie Mandela
(President of the African National Congress Women's League)
LeaderGertrude Shope
(Head of delegation)
Succeeded byNosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
Member of the National Assembly of South Africa
In office
1994 – 2019
Additional offices held
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa
In office
PresidentNelson Mandela
Thabo Mbeki
SpeakerFrene Ginwala
Succeeded bySolomon Lechesa Tsenoli
Chair of the African National Congress Parliamentary Caucus
In office
PresidentNelson Mandela
Personal details
Born (1949-09-24) 24 September 1949 (age 71)
Durban, Union of South Africa
Political partyAfrican National Congress
(m. 1978; div. 1992)

Nape Khomo
(m. 2016)
Alma materEshowe Training College
Lovedale Teacher Training College
  • Politician
  • activist

Mbete is the ex-wife of poet and activist Keorapetse Kgositsile.[4]

Early lifeEdit

After going into exile in 1976,[4] Mbete taught in Mbabane in Swaziland, and went on to work for the African National Congress (ANC) in several other African cities, including Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Nairobi in Kenya, Gaborone in Botswana, Harare in Zimbabwe, and Lusaka in Zambia. She returned to South Africa from exile in June 1990.[5]

In the ANC governmentEdit

Soon after her return, Mbete was elected the secretary-general of ANC Women's League, serving in this position from 1991 to 1993. She was elected as an MP for the ANC in 1994, and was appointed chair of the ANC parliamentary caucus in 1995,[6] and was the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa from 1996 to 2004. Mbete was also a member of the Presidential Panel on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the ANC National Executive Committee,[7] and the Pan-African Parliament.

From April 2004, Mbete became the Speaker of the National Assembly. On 18 December 2007, at the 52nd National Elective Conference of the ANC held in Polokwane, Mbete was elected as the ANC's national chairperson.[4][8]

Deputy PresidentEdit

On 20 September 2008, the African National Congress formally asked President Thabo Mbeki to resign as President of South Africa. Mbete, as Speaker of Parliament, accepted Mbeki's resignation on 21 September. It had been speculated that Mbete would succeed Mbeki as President, which would have made her the first female head of state in South Africa's history; however, the ANC announced that Kgalema Motlanthe, Deputy President of the ANC, would assume that position. On 23 September, Mbete was announced by the SABC as the most likely candidate for Deputy President of South Africa following Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka's resignation from the position.[9] On 25 September 2008, she was appointed by Motlanthe as Deputy President.[10] On 10 May 2009 she was replaced as Deputy President by incoming President Jacob Zuma, who elected to appoint Motlanthe as his deputy.[3]

Baleka Mbete meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his 2006 visit to South Africa.

Speaker of the National AssemblyEdit


On 20 May 2014, Mbete was nominated for the position of Speaker of the National Assembly for a second time. She was elected unanimously on 21 May, beating her rival DA candidate and former Eastern Cape Premier Nosimo Balindlela. On 10 September 2014, five opposition parties, including the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters, stated that they planned to submit a motion of no confidence in Mbete, and claimed that she could not simultaneously serve as chairwoman of the ANC and as Speaker of the National Assembly. A debate held in Parliament on 16 September resulted in the motion being rejected by 234 votes to none. This was a result of opposition parties collectively walking out of the house after the ANC tried to change the vote into one of confidence in Mbete instead.[11][12]

Alleged biasEdit

Mbete has faced accusations, over the course of several years, that she is biased in favour of the ANC and a puppet of Ex-president Jacob Zuma.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20] In March 2016, the Constitutional Court held, in Economic Freedom Fighters v Speaker of the National Assembly, that the National Assembly under Mbete's stewardship had breached the South African Constitution by undermining rather than implementing the Public Protector's Nkandla report.


As speaker of the national assembly Mbete was paid R2‚716‚798 (equivalent to US$170,000) a year as of April 2015 making her the highest paid member of the South African Parliament at the time.[21]


As speaker Mbete has highlighted poor attendance of ministers at parliamentary meetings, and implemented an attendance roster.[22]


On 20 May 2019, the African National Congress announced that it had nominated NCOP Chairperson Thandi Modise to succeed Mbete as Speaker.[23] The following day, Mbete withdrew her name from the ANC's incoming parliamentarians list.[24][25]

Other controversiesEdit

In April 1997, Mbete was found to have received an improperly issued driver's license. She was not charged with any wrongdoing.[26] This was after investigators uncovered widespread corruption in Mpumalanga's driving license testing centre.[27] Mbete said that she had been "too busy" to stand in queues.[28]

In 2006, Mbete chartered a jet at a cost of R471,900 (around $60,000) to fly to Liberia for the inauguration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as president. The only other passenger on the plane was a member of her staff. Then president Thabo Mbeki and foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma also travelled to the inauguration – Mbeki in his private plane and Dlamini-Zuma by commercial flight.[29]

Mbete has been a staunch supporter of Tony Yengeni, a former ANC Chief Whip in parliament, who was convicted of defrauding parliament in 2004, even accompanying Yengeni to Pollsmoor Prison when he reported to serve his sentence.[30]

Mbete's links to business have also been questioned. She and provincial secretary of the ANC in the Northern Cape Dr K M Seimelo are shareholders in Dyambu Holdings,[31] which is involved in building the massive Gautrain public transport project in the province Gauteng. Dyambu Holdings is reported to have had links with slain magnate Brett Kebble.[32] In 2010, she was implicated in a R25 million Gold Fields bribe under the guise of a "BEE" transaction by US investigators.[33]


  1. ^ WATCH | Zuma, Malema & Mbete are stars of this hilarious parliamentary 'Busted' video
  2. ^ | Baleka Mbete swears in 12 new MPs
  3. ^ a b "Biography: Baleka Mbete" Archived 3 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine, African National Congress.
  4. ^ a b c "Baleka Mbete" Archived 18 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Incwajana.
  5. ^ "Baleka Mbete-Kgositsile", South African History online.
  6. ^ Jenny Percival, "Baleka Mbete profile", The Guardian, 19 September 2008.
  7. ^ "National Executive Committee as elected at 51st national conference". ANC. Archived from the original on 7 December 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  8. ^ "Results for the election of ANC officials". ANC. Archived from the original on 29 June 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  9. ^ ''Mbete to be appointed interim deputy president''. Retrieved 8 October 2012. Archived 5 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "South Africa: New President Removes Health Minister",, 25 September 2008.
  11. ^ "Mbete motion defeated after opposition walkout". news24. 16 September 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  12. ^ "Opposition unites to say Baleka Mbete must go". Times Live. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  13. ^ "Mbete vows to protect Parliament". IOL. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  14. ^ Stone, Setumo (17 February 2015). "Mbete's incendiary remarks reveals bias and paranoia". The Dispatch. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  15. ^ Makhanya, Mondli (14 February 2016). "Baleka Mbete, a crime scene cleaner". CityPress. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  16. ^ SAPA (22 March 2015). "Parliament denies accusations of bias". IOL. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
  17. ^ Zuma, President Jacob; GCIS, Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete Picture. "Mbete shielded president from R4bn jet issue". Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  18. ^ Ackroyd, Bianca. "WATCH: 'Step Aside Mbete' Demands Opposition". Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  19. ^ "The World According to Baleka: Making up rules for Parliament". Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  20. ^ Makinana, Andisiwe. "Baleka Mbete's parly position brings the House down". The M&G Online. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  21. ^ "Malema earns R1'222'606 a year - MPs salaries revealed". Times Live. 8 June 2016. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  22. ^ Staff Writer (23 July 2018). "These are the ministers who still haven't showed up to parliamentary meetings this year". Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  23. ^ Thandi Modise to replace Baleka Mbete as National Assembly speaker. Retrieved on 21 May 2019.
  24. ^ Mbete, Gigaba withdraw from ANC MP list. Retrieved on 21 May 2019.
  25. ^ Baleka Mbete and Malusi Gigaba decline parliamentary seats. Retrieved on 21 May 2019.
  26. ^ Accountable to Themselves: Predominance in Southern Africa. Kenneth Good. The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 35, No. 4 (December 1997), pp. 547–573.
  27. ^ "Global Integrity – South Africa Timeline". Global Integrity. Archived from the original on 26 August 2007.
  28. ^ Wines, Michael (29 October 2007). "Driven insane in South Africa". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 10 September 2008.
  29. ^ Dawes, Nic (24 March 2006). "Now the speaker joins the jet set". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  30. ^ Jurgens, André; Ndivhuho Mafela and Philani Nombembe (27 August 2006). "Jailed Yengeni shows no remorse". The Times. Archived from the original on 23 November 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  31. ^ Mudzuli, Kennedy (27 November 2006). ""Gravy train" elite slated". The Citizen. Retrieved 21 August 2008.[permanent dead link]
  32. ^ wa ka Ngobeni, Wisani; Dominic Mahlangu and Dumisane Lubisi (6 March 2007). "A finger in all the right pies". Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 25 November 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  33. ^ McKune, Craig (6 September 2013). "Investigators: 'Gold Fields bribed Mbete'". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
Political offices
Preceded by
Frene Ginwala
Speaker of the National Assembly
Succeeded by
Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde
Preceded by
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Deputy President of South Africa
Succeeded by
Kgalema Motlanthe
Preceded by
Max Sisulu
Speaker of the National Assembly