A member of the African National Congress (ANC) for more than four decades, Baleka Mbete has served in different capacities and sectors including leadership and mobilisation of women, cultural workers, constitution making and parliamentary democracy.
After returning from 15 years in exile, Mbete became the first Secretary General of the ANC Women’s League after the unbanning of the ANC. When the ANC Women’s League formed the Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa in 2006, she was elected to be its National Convenor.
The negotiations for the Interim Constitution and the Constitutional Assembly turned out to be a multi-layered opportunity to hammer out appropriate provisions based on the Freedom Charter. Mbete, one of the ANC negotiators, was part of those that ensured that the new Constitution looks out for the poor as well as for gender sensitivity.
Appointed by the late President Nelson Mandela to the leadership of the new parliament back in 1996 as Deputy Speaker (deputising Speaker Ginwala), she has been part of establishing a new parliamentary sector and culture. She spearheaded the formulation of the FMPPLA, the Financial Management of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, which guides the whole legislative sector.
Of all tasks given to her by the ANC over time, none was as much an honour as that of – in her capacity as National Chairperson – driving the ANC Centenary Celebrations in 2012. Centenary legacy work continues under the ANC’s National Archives Committee which is chaired by Mbete.
Ms Mbete was recently awarded the 2016 King Legacy Award by the Martin Luther King Jr Foundation, in the United States for her distinguished leadership roles over the years and for her positive contributions in the global community.
Mbete is a mother of 5 and enjoys 4 grandchildren and loves the arts, particularly music and writing poetry.