Mr Paul Shipokosa Mashatile was appointed as the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa on 6 March 2023.
Mashatile was Minister of Arts and Culture between 2010 and 2014. Before that, he was Premier of Gauteng from 2008 to 2009.
He was born on 21 October 1961 in Gerhardsville, near Pretoria in the then Southern Transvaal. He is the third of eight children born to Bishop Diamond Nyangeni and Mirriam Nomvula Mashatile. This was a period of heightened political repression in the country, as highlighted by the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 at Sebokeng Township when the apartheid regime mowed innocent citizens who were protesting against pass laws. This heightened political period also occasioned the formation of uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military arm of the African National Congress (ANC). Such is the environment that would shape Mr Mashatile's formative years and imbue in him political consciousness from a very young age.
His parents lived on the farm where his father worked and served as a priest. His mother was a domestic worker and sold vegetables and other household items on the side. He and his seven siblings honed their entrepreneurial skills and acquired a solid work ethic assisting their mother in her small enterprise.
In later years the family moved to Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, where his father continued his ministry until he graduated to become the Bishop of East Hethlon Church, a role he held until he passed on in 2011 at the age of 82. His mother continued operating her small business until she passed on in 2020, also at the age of 82.
In the late 1960's, Mr Mashatile enrolled at Paradise Bend Primary School in Diepsloot, staying with his aunt and uncle in this Johannesburg township. He returned to Atteridgeville in 1972 to continue his schooling at Bathabile Primary School. After primary school he again moved to Johannesburg, enrolling at Alexandra High School, where he matriculated in 1982. Alexandra High was a former Roman Catholic school commonly referred to as “Roma". While at the school, Mashatile was appointed secretary of the church and a Sunday school teacher.
Significantly, it was also during this time that Mashatile became involved in politics when he joined the Congress of South African Students (COSAS), the progressive Learners Movement affiliated to the then banned African National Congress (ANC). That was to begin his long political journey as an activist and freedom fighter.
Together with his fellow Comrades, the Deputy President started the Alexandra Youth Congress (AYCO) and was elected the first President of AYCO when it was launched in September 1983. He and his Comrades were also recruited to work underground for the ANC and its military wing uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK). In 1983, AYCO became affiliated to the United Democratic Front (UDF). As a result, Mr Mashatile was elected Assistant Secretary of the UDF Southern Transvaal in 1984, where he deputised ANC stalwart comrade Mohammed Valli Moosa.
Owing to his political activism, he was detained under the State of Emergency regulations declared by then apartheid State President P.W. Botha and spent more than four years in prison without trail. He was finally released in April 1989. While in prison, he registered to study for a BA Law with UNISA, but he was unable to complete his degree due to difficulties in accessing study material on time.
However, during his free time in prison, Mashatile taught English to Matriculants and chaired a committee responsible for the well-being of political prisoners called the Forum, where he served with Comrades Amos Masondo, Pascal Moloi and the late Zwelakhe Sisulu among others. He was also a gym instructor and regularly gave lectures on the history of resistance in South Africa, the ANC and the National Democratic Revolution (NDR).
After being released from prison, Mashatile was restricted from participating in any political activity and had to present himself to authorities twice a day at the Alexandra Police Station. He was also placed under house arrest, effectively meaning that he was not allowed to leave the Magisterial District of Johannesburg without the permission of the apartheid security police.
Despite these restrictions, Mashatile was elected General Secretary of the UDF Southern Transvaal in a secret underground meeting and became a member of the organisation's National Executive Committee. After his release from prison, Mashatile discontinued his law studies to focus on economic policy. He registered for a Diploma in Economic Principles with the University of London and successfully completed several courses.
Following the unbanning of the ANC, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and other political organisations, Mashatile was elected to serve in the Interim Leadership Committee of the ANC in the PWV Region (now Gauteng). He was also appointed to the Interim Leadership Committee of the SACP in the region, and became its first Provincial Secretary. In 1992, the Deputy President was elected Provincial Secretary of the ANC PWV Region and served in this position until 1998 when he was elected Deputy Chairperson of the ANC in Gauteng.
Leadership in Government
When the ruling African National Congress won the country's first democratic elections in 1994, Mashatile was elected to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature and served as the Leader of the House. During this period, he also served as ex-officio member of the Gauteng Executive Council (Provincial Cabinet) led by then Premier Tokyo Sexwale.
From 1996 to 1998, Mashatile served as MEC of Transport, Roads and Public Works where he was instrumental in the conceptualisation and implementation of the now renowned Gauteng Rapid Railway Link, which successfully became Gautrain. In 1998 he was appointed MEC for Safety and Security in Gauteng for the remainder of the 1994-1999 term of Government.
In the 1999-2004 term, Mashatile served as MEC of Housing in Gauteng. From 2004 to 2008, he was the MEC of Finance and Economic Affairs and was responsible for three departments, namely, Economic Development, Gauteng Treasury and the Gauteng Shared Services Centre (GSSC).
After the resignation of Premier Mbhazima Shilowa in 2008, Mashatile was elected as the 4th Premier of Gauteng Province. In the same year, Mashatile was elected as Chairperson of the ANC in Gauteng, a position he was re-elected to thrice until he resigned in 2018 after he was elected Treasurer-General of the ANC in its 54th Conference in December 2017.
In 2009, Mashatile was appointed by then President Jacob Zuma as Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture and thus resigned from the Gauteng Legislature. In 2010 he was sworn in as a Member of Parliament and subsequently appointed Minister of Arts and Culture by President Zuma and served until the end of the term in 2014. After the 2014 general elections, Mashatile was elected a Member of Parliament and appointed as Chairperson of Parliament's Appropriations Committee. He served in this committee until early 2016.
Mashatile was recalled to Gauteng and appointed by then Premier David Makhura as MEC of Human Settlements and COGTA.
At its 54th National Conference at Nasrec in December 2017, the ANC elected Mashatile as Treasurer-General, a position that requires the incumbent to be full-time at Luthuli House Headquarters, thus resigning from the Gauteng Provincial Government to work full-time in the organisation. During this time, Deputy President Mashatile was appointed by the ANC National Executive Committee to act as the Deputy Secretary General (DSG) and Secretary General (SG) of the ANC following the passing of Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte and the suspension of Secretary General Ace Magashule. He held these dual responsibilities until his election as Deputy President of the ANC in December 2022.
The Deputy President has demonstrated cross-sectoral knowledge and experience of the inner workings of Government. During his tenure in Government positions, he masterminded and led the implementation of noteworthy projects that have contributed to the social and economic development of both his province in Gauteng and the Republic of South Africa at large.
A number of people who have worked with the Deputy President describe him as a team-player and a decisive leader, who manages to harness abilities, experience, and skills to form strong teams across departments in all spheres of Government to work towards a common goal.
The Gautrain, the Blue IQ projects, the Newtown Precinct, the 20 Township Projects and the establishment of the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) to support the development of the SMME sector are some of the projects that can be attributed to Deputy President Mashatile's political and strategic leadership.
Whilst Premier of Gauteng, Mashatile's determination to improve governance systems and processes led to him restructuring the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) departments to enable integrated and holistic service delivery. He also re-engineered GPG Executive Committee systems and processes to ensure speedier and smoother decision-making. The Gauteng Growth and Development Strategy, developed under his stewardship as MEC of Finance and Economic Development, included the establishment of a “formal" social compact between the government and other sectors of society, detailing the specific and collaborative roles of each sector and role player.
As Minister of Arts and Culture, he developed the ground-breaking Mzansi Golden Economy Policy, which positioned the Arts, Culture and Heritage sector as a key economic sector. This expanded the sectors' role from a narrow social cohesion role to being a significant contributor to equitable economic growth and development.
Family and Civic Duty
Deputy President Mashatile is passionate about strong and united families as he is about community development. The Deputy President is currently married to Ms Humile Mashatile. He has four children - Palesa, Thabiso, Tinyiko, Ayanda, Goapele Zenani and Zondwa Songezo Jnr, as well as two grandchildren, Bontle and Manzi-Zama.
He is the Chairperson of the Vincent Tshabalala Education Trust, a position he has held for two decades. He is also the Patron of the Manzi Mashatile Foundation, which was established in 2020 to continue honouring the legacy of his late wife, Manzi Ellen Matlhodi.
Deputy President Mashatile's lived experience of growing up poor is what continues to drive his commitment to building a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, and prosperous South Africa. A deeper look at Deputy President Paul Mashatile tells the story of a dedicated, experienced and politically mature leader.