Profile of ANC presidential candidate: Nakedi Mathews Phosa

PRESIDENTIAL candidate from the ANC in Mpumalanga, Mathews Phosa remained unrepentant,Picture: Supplied

NAKEDI Mathews Phosa was born on September 1, 1952, in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga. He is currently the treasurer-general of the ANC and has been a member of the national executive committee of the ANC since 1999.

Phosa was born in Mbombela township, near Nelspruit. However, he grew up with his grandfather in the rural area of Mokopane, near Potgietersrus. He matriculated at Orhovelani High School in Thulamahashe and left the country in 1985. In 1986 he became the regional commander of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC in Mozambique. Phosa was one of the ANC members instrumental in convincing King Sobhuza II of Swaziland not to accept the apartheid regime’s offer to give him the Ngwane and Ngwavuma districts.

Phosa was one of the first four members of the ANC to enter South Africa from exile in 1990 in order to start the process of negotiation with the apartheid government. Following the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, he played an important role in transition initiatives, including the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa).

After the first democratic elections in 1994, Phosa was appointed as the premier of Mpumalanga, a position which he held until 1999. He was also head of the legal department of the ANC. As head of the ANC’s legal department, he often engaged in fierce debates with apartheid’s minister of law and order, Hernus Kriel, over issues such as the joint investigation by the South African Police and the ANC into the death of Chris Hani. At the 52nd national conference of the ANC, Phosa was elected treasurergeneral.

Mathews Phosa, fluent in Afrikaans, published a volume of poetry called Deur die Oog van ’n Naald (Through the Eye of a Needle) in 1999.