Dr Mathews Phosa is a prominent political and business leader in South Africa. He played a key role in the negotiations that led to the peaceful end of four decades of apartheid rule in 1994 and ushered in a democratic government.
Dr Phosa is the Chairman and Director of the ARCT and TAWA Development companies. On ARCT, he led the transfer of ownership of 2.2 million hectares of land from the Traditional Parliaments, Kutas, to a Zambian Private Holding company. On TAWA, he successfully negotiated the privatization of the dams, hydro power stations and water supply gravity pipe lines and the land surface areas as well as the off-take agreements for water, power and food. Dr Phosa has the reputation, the experience, the history of achievements and respect required to achieve these objectives. Dr Phosa is also the Chairman of Bruinette Phosa and Partners Consulting Engineers (Pty) Ltd, “BP”.
Dr Phosa qualified with a BProc and LLB from the University of the North, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree from Boston University, Massachusetts, USA in 1995. He subsequently established the first black owned law practice in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga in 1981 and worked as a partner until 1985 when he was forced into exile by the apartheid government.
While in exile, Dr Phosa underwent political and military training, after which he became the Regional Commander for uMkhonto we Sizwe (‘Spear of the Nation’) (MK) the then military wing of the African National Congress (ANC) in Mozambique. He was one of three ANC members to be sent back to South Africa in 1990 to start the negotiation process with the former government where after he played a prominent role in the processes to establish a peaceful transition to a fully democratic South Africa.
He was a member of the ANC team that negotiated and drafted the historic Grootte Schuur Minute in 1990. He also served on the working group that dealt with the implications that the suspension of the armed struggle had on the ANC and MK. In his official role in the ANC, Phosa was head of the legal department responsible for organising and co-ordinating the return of all exiles and the establishment of all ANC departments at the then Shell House.
In 1991 Dr Phosa acted as advisor to the ANC delegation at CODESA I, while he led the ANC team in working group IV, dealing with the re-incorporation of the former self-governing territories and TBVC states. In 1992, Dr Phosa represented the ANC as delegate to CODESA II and acted as part of the communications channel between the former government and the ANC. He became one of the negotiators and authors of the now historic Record of Understanding.
After the first democratic elections in 1994, Dr Phosa was appointed by South Africa’s first black President, Nelson Mandela, as the first Premier of Mpumalanga, one of the nine newly established provinces in the country. He held the Premiership of Mpumalanga until 1999 after which he became a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC.
As a global businessman, Dr Phosa’s contribution in the development and establishment of the Maputo Trade Corridor between Mozambique and South Africa resulted in a growth in international competitiveness for the two neighbours, making it the most thriving development corridor in Africa. This industrial initiative was so successful that it was honored with the NEPAD Award of Excellence.
He is currently involved in negotiations that will pave the way to increased investment in energy generation and transmission in Southern Africa, and there are plans to launch hydro power and transmission projects in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Dr Phosa was Chairman of KPMG Consulting in 2000 to 2002. KPMG Consulting was, at the time, the third largest consulting firm in South Africa and was transformed into a new generation management consultancy. Dr Phosa is among South Africa’s longest-serving university Council Chairpersons. He was Unisa’s Council Chairperson from 2003 to 2015, appointed by all three merging institutions and endorsed by the then Minister of Education, Kader Asmal to chair Unisa’s Council through a particularly challenging phase: the 2004 merger of Unisa, Technikon SA and Vista University’s Distance Education Campus. Phosa’s background as a negotiator made him more than equal to the task.
Dr Phosa served on the board of SMEC South Africa for close to 15 years. SMEC has been in existence for more than 70 years and is one of the leading civil and structural engineering companies, delivering successful infrastructure solutions to clients and communities.
Wednesday 10th May, 11:00 – 12:30: Big Plans Roundtables