Meet the new boss
After another cabinet reshuffle by President Jacob Zuma, Ben Martins has been ousted from his position as minister of transport, leaving the troubled seat open for a new contender – THINUS VAN ROOYEN reports.
The parliamentary dust has been kicked up with President Zuma’s most recent cabinet reshuffle in which yet another swift barrage of ministerial changes have been made to various government departments. Among some surprising changes prominent figures, such as Tokyo Sexwale, have been given the boot and former Minister of Energy, Dipuo Peters, has been appointed as the new minister of transport.
Peters, who is taking the reins from Ben Martins after his short-lived stint at the helm, was previously employed by the government as the minister of energy between May 2009 and July 2013. Interestingly, Martins has taken over her previous commission and is now minister of energy.
Born on May 3, 1960, in Kimberley, 53-year-old Peters attended school at the Tidimalo Junior Secondary and Tshireleco Senior Secondary schools respectively. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work from the University of the North, as well as several certificates from local institutions like the University of Cape Town and the University of the Western Cape, as well as from the University of Havana, in Cuba.
In her youth, she was involved in political activism after joining the Young Christian Students, where she participated in youth formations. Soon afterwards, she became the deputy chairperson of the Women’s Forum for the Azanian Students Orginisation (AZASO) at the University of the North. Later, she joined the Galeshewe Youth Congress, an affiliate of the United Democratic Front (UDF).
After working as a volunteer regional organiser in 1987 for the South African Domestic Workers’ Union, she headed the Women’s Department at the South African Youth Congress until 1990.
During the early 90s, Peters joined the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) as the secretary for Women Affairs and became member of the Provincial National Youth Committee (PNYC) between 1990 and 1991. Alongside her ANCYL membership, she has also served as a member of the Executive Council for Health from 1999 to 2004.
Between 1995 and 1997, Peters became a member of Parliament (MP) in the National Assembly, and was given the Northern Cape and ANC Membership/Caucus Register as her main responsibility. Parallel to her role as an MP, she served as a member of the portfolio committees on home affairs, public works, social services and health.
Six years later, in 2003, she was promoted to deputy chairperson for the ANC in the Northern Cape. Soon after, she was given the role of acting provincial chairperson in 2004, before becoming the official provincial chairperson for the following three years until December 2007.
She was appointed as minister of energy in 2009, after having previously been the premier of the Northern Cape Province.
With Ben Martins’ time as minister of transport having only lasted a year, a lot of pressure for change and growth has been cast upon Peters.
In a recent public statement made by the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Gauteng provincial leader, John Moodey, Peters was asked to scrap the highly contested e-toll projects in South Africa.
Moodey stated: “The Democratic Alliance in Gauteng calls on the new transport minister to ditch the controversial e-toll project. Minister Peters must take this opportunity and heed the public outcry and warning signs around the unworkable project.”
Although what actions the new minister will take regarding e-tolling remain to be seen, she has not been idle.
On July 17, Peters undertook a rigorous site inspection of the public transport services, facilities and infrastructure of her native Northern Cape Province. During this tour, she interacted with local taxi associations, drivers, and owners, as well as the community at large.
Furthermore, Peters demonstrated a capacity to address matters outside her new office when participating in a round-table discussion with the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Mashabane, regarding the recent Mandela Day celebrations. In a brief address she stressed the importance of Nelson Mandela Day and the ailing former president’s legacy. Afterwards, she participated in discussions with Grade 12 learners, in which she informed them of the socio-economic opportunities and challenges they are set to face in the years to come.
We hope the new minister of transport’s determination and ambition will play a key role in improving our country’s transport network. And, on behalf of the entire transport industry, FOCUS says welcome aboard!