Molefe Seeletsa

Compiled by Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

Tina Joemat-Pettersson leaves a complicated legacy

There were many controversies involving Joemat-Pettersson during her political career.

As tributes pour in for former Cabinet minister and African National Congress (ANC) MP Tina Joemat-Pettersson, she leaves a complicated legacy behind.

South Africa learnt of Joemat-Pettersson’s death at the age of 59 on Monday evening, sparking mixed reactions from the public as the former minister was no stranger to controversy.

Here’s what you need to know about Joemat-Pettersson:


Born on 16 December 1963 in Kimberly, Joemat-Pettersson attended William Pescod High School before she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and History and a Higher Diploma in Education – both from the University of the Western Cape.

She also obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Executive Management in Education from the University of Cape Town (UCT).


Joemat-Pettersson worked as a teacher before beginning her activism in the Azanian Students Organisation (Azaso) around 1985 and was later a member of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu).

She then became active in politics in 1994, campaigning for the ANC in the Northern Cape in the first democratic elections.

The ANC member was subsequently elected as a member of the Northern Cape legislature, where she served as the Education, Arts and Culture MEC for 10 years and was the Agriculture MEC for a term.

She also held various leadership positions in the South Africa Communist Party (SACP), where she was a chairperson in the Northern Cape in 1998, and in 2003 she was elected as the ANC provincial treasurer in her home province.

In 2009, she was elected to Parliament and was appointed as the Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Minister.

Former president Jacob Zuma appointed her as Energy Minister in 2014.

Joemat-Pettersson further served as an ANC MP and chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police from 2019 until her death.

Fuel reserves scandal

Her tenure as Energy Minister came with some controversy, especially the 2015 sale of South African oil reserves, where she was found to have flouted the Public and Financial Management Act (PFMA) and other statutes.

Joematt-Pettersson allegedly approved a deal for the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) to sell 10.3 million barrels of the country’s oil reserves at a discounted rate.

She told Parliament that it was not a sale but simply a rotation of the stock, despite no new stock having been purchased.

However, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane later found no wrongdoing on Joemat-Pettersson’s part in a report on maladministration and misconduct allegations against her pertaining to the deal.

Nuclear deal

Joemat-Pettersson during this time also signed an intergovernmental nuclear power deal with Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom.

The deal would have seen Rosatom build reactors in South Africa with a total installed capacity of up to 9 600MW, but the agreement was declared unlawful and unconstitutional by the courts.

Sekunjalo scandal

Joemat-Pettersson was also involved in controversy in 2012 when she was at the centre of an R800 million tender.

As Minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, she oversaw the granting of the multimillion contract to businessman Iqbal Survé’s Sekunjalo Marine Services Consortium to manage the department’s fishery, research and patrol vessels.

This despite the company having no experience in the field. The contract was declared improper and irregular.

She was then found guilty of maladministration by former public protector Thuli Madonsela in 2013 for her role in the matter.

Violated Ethics Code

In 2019, Joemat-Pettersson was found to have brought the ANC into disrepute following the release of a report by the public protector.

She was found to have violated the Executive Ethics Code when she spent over R150 000 to fly her two children and their nanny home from an overseas trip in 2010.

Although she was ordered to pay back the funds, the ANC’s integrity commission in April this year cleared her of wrongdoing.

Mkhwebane extortion allegations

More recently, Joemat-Pettersson was accused of trying to extort funds from Mkhwebane to make her impeachment inquiry “go away”.

The committee’s chairperson, Qubudile Dyantyi, and ANC chief whip, Pemmy Majodina have also been implicated.

Mkhwebane’s husband, David Skosana, has opened a case of extortion.

Skosana reportedly gave screenshots of WhatsApp messages purported to be between Joemat-Pettersson and himself to the police.

Mkhwebane has also reported the allegations to the Ethics and Members Committee.

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