Marthinus van Schalkwyk

Marthinus Christoffel Johannes van Schalkwyk (born 10 November 1959) is a South African politician, academic, lawyer, and apartheid-era intelligence operative. He is also a former MP and Minister of Tourism in the Cabinet of South Africa.[1] Formerly Premier of the Western Cape and Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of South Africa, he was the leader of the New National Party from its inception on 8 September 1997 until its dissolution on 9 April 2005. He was appointed Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in the Thabo Mbeki administration after merging his party with the ruling African National Congress (ANC), despite the poor performance of the former in the 2004 General Election.

Marthinus van Schalkwyk
Marthinus van Schalkwyk crop.jpg
Van Schalkwyk in January 2009
South African Minister of Tourism
In office
10 May 2009 – 25 May 2014
PresidentJacob Zuma
Preceded byValli Moosa
Succeeded byDerek Hanekom
Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
In office
29 April 2004 – 10 May 2009
Preceded byValli Moosa
Succeeded byPosition dissolved
Leader of the Opposition
In office
Preceded byF.W. de Klerk
Succeeded byTony Leon
4th Premier of the Western Cape
In office
21 June 2002 – 28 April 2004
Preceded byPeter Marais
Succeeded byEbrahim Rasool
Personal details
Born (1959-11-10) 10 November 1959 (age 61)
Pietersburg, South Africa
Political partyAfrican National Congress
Other political
New National Party (1997–2005)
National Party (1980s – 1997)
Spouse(s)Suzette van Schalkwyk
Military service
Allegiance South Africa
Branch/service South African Defence Force
Years of service1978–1979

Early life and careerEdit

Van Schalkwyk matriculated from Pietersburg High School in 1977. He was a national serviceman in the South African Defence Force (SADF) from 1978 to 1979 and would later attend the Rand Afrikaans University where he earned a Masters of Arts in Political Science and a B Proc. (a junior legal degree). As a prominent student leader of whites in the 1980s, he was a founding member and chairman of "Jeugkrag" - Youth Power - an organisation purportedly opposed to the Afrikaner establishment, but which was secretly funded by military intelligence.[2][3][4] According to a top secret document supplied to WikiLeaks, Van Schalkwyk "confirmed that he was an agent for the Intelligence Services".[5] Later, he would lecture Political Science at Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) and University of Stellenbosch.[6]

Political careerEdit

His political career began during the late apartheid years at the Rand Afrikaans University as chairman of the Student Representative Council (SRC), the Afrikaanse Studentebond (ASB), and later of the Ruiterwag, the youth wing of the Broederbond.

Van Schalkwyk succeeded F. W. de Klerk as leader of the National Party in 1996, and reorganised it on 8 September 1997 as the New National Party in a bid to distance the party from its apartheid past. He remained the NNP's leader until its dissolution on 9 April 2005. He also served as Premier of the Western Cape and Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of South Africa.

Informally, he was referred to by detractors as kortbroek (lit. "short pants"),[7] a name he earned because of his boyish appearance and lack of political experience when compared to his predecessor, F.W. de Klerk. A significant part of the white Afrikaner population views him as a weak politician who destroyed the old NP and merged its successor, the NNP, in a bid to save his own political skin.[8] He was however one of the few National Party politicians who remained active in politics after the party's decline.

In August 2004 it was announced that Van Schalkwyk would become a member of the ANC, and that the NNP would be disbanded in 2005 or 2006 at the latest. This decision was finalized on 9 April 2005, when the party's federal committee overwhelmingly endorsed its regional committees' recommendation to disband the party as soon as municipal election results were finalised.

Environmental Affairs and Tourism workEdit

On 29 April 2004 Van Schalkwyk was appointed by President Thabo Mbeki as Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism for South Africa. He held the position until May 2009, when a new Ministry of Water and Environmental Affairs was created and he became Minister of Tourism.

Van Schalkwyk became President of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in June 2008, when South Africa assumed the presidency of AMCEN at the beginning of its 12th Session.[9]

In March 2010, he was nominated by South African President Jacob Zuma to succeed Yvo de Boer as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.[10] The vote did not go his way and on 17 May 2010 de Boer was succeeded by Costa Rican diplomat Christiana Figueres who had been involved with the Center for Sustainable Development in the Americas since the early 1990s.[11]

In its annual review of ministerial performance for 2013 the Mail and Guardian gave van Schalkwyk a C grade, concluding that "With inadequate political credentials, Marthinus van Schalkwyk has justified his stay in Cabinet long after the demise of his New National Party by actually doing his work. Tourism figures have improved year by year and his department has consistently tried to innovate to attract more visitors ... Van Schalkwyk may not return after elections, but under him tourism has grown into a long-pants department."[12]

Van Schalkwyk is currently serving as South Africa's ambassador to Greece (2015- ).

Personal lifeEdit

Van Schalkwyk is married to Suzette Minama Labuschagne and has a son, Christiaan, and a daughter, Maryke.[13][14]


  1. ^ "New Cabinet - full appointments". News24. Archived from the original on 12 May 2009. Retrieved 10 May 2009.
  2. ^ Russell, Alec (2009). Bring Me My Machine Gun: The Battle for the Soul of South Africa from Mandela to Zuma. New York: PublicAffairs Perseus. p. 205. ISBN 978-1586487386.
  3. ^ [1] Archived 9 September 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Breaking SA and World News, Sports, Business, Entertainment and more - Times LIVE
  5. ^ Shickelgruber, Gunter (2001). "High Treason – An Intelligence Report on South Africa". WikiLeaks.
  6. ^ "Marthinus Christoffel Johannes Van Schalkwyk". People's Assembly. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Marthinus van Schalkwyk: From 'Kortbroek' to 'Kortbroke'?", ENCA, Elections, Tuesday 27 May 2014 - 1:02pm.
  8. ^ ""NNP Slammed For 'Treason'", News24, Archives, Gert Coetzee, 2004-08-10 08:52.
  9. ^ "Ministerial Segment of the Twelfth Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment Highlights", AMCEN Bulletin, Volume 1, Number 3, 11 June 2008.
  10. ^ [2][dead link]
  11. ^ UN names Costa Rican as new climate change chief, UN News Center, 17 May 2010.
  12. ^ Cabinet Report Card: Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Mail & Guardian
  13. ^ Lourens, Vanessa (12 September 1997). "Suzette wil haarself bly wyl sy nuwe leier steun". Die Burger. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Peter Marais
Premier of the Western Cape
21 June 2002 – 23 April 2004
Succeeded by
Ebrahim Rasool
Preceded by
Valli Moosa
Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
2004 – 2009
Succeeded by
Buyelwa Sonjica
as Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs
Succeeded by
as Minister of Tourism
Preceded by
as Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Minister of Tourism
2009 – 2014
Succeeded by
Derek Hanekom
Party political offices
Preceded by
F.W. de Klerk
as Leader of the National Party
Leader of the New National Party
1997 – 2005
Party disbanded