Edna Molewa

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The Honourable
Bomo Edna Molewa
Edna Molewa.jpg
Minister of Environmental Affairs
Assumed office
26 May 2014
President Jacob Zuma
Cyril Ramaphosa
Preceded by Herself as Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs
Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs
In office
31 October 2010 – 25 May 2014
President Jacob Zuma
Preceded by Buyelwa Sonjica
Succeeded by Ministry split Nomvula Mokonyane as Minister of Water
Minister of Social Development
In office
11 May 2009 – 31 October 2010
President Jacob Zuma
Preceded by Zola Skweyiya
Succeeded by Bathabile Dlamini[1]
2nd Premier of North West Province
In office
30 April 2004 – 6 May 2009
Preceded by Popo Molefe
Succeeded by Maureen Modiselle
Personal details
Born (1957-03-23) 23 March 1957 (age 61)
[citation needed]
Political party African National Congress
Spouse(s) Richard Molewa

Bomo Edith Edna Molewa, known as Edna Molewa (born 23 March 1957), is a South African politician and member of the African National Congress. Molewa became the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs of South Africa on 31 October 2010, as part of a cabinet reshuffle by President Jacob Zuma. On May 25, 2014, her Ministry was split and she was appointed Minister of Environmental Affairs. She replaced her predecessor, Buyelwa Sonjica.[2] Molewa is currently studying towards a Bachelor’s in Communications through the University of South Africa.[3]

Political career

Edna Molewa was involved in South Africa’s liberation movement from 1976 through 1990. During that time she was a member of various activist and regional economic development organizations.[3] And beginning in 1984 served as a chairperson of the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union and eventually became its deputy president.[3] In 1994 Molewa became the first female Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, and in 1996 went on to serve as a member of the Executive Council on Tourism, Environment and Conservation.[4][5]

She was also a member of the Executive Council on Economic Development and Tourism from 1998 through 2000.[4][5] Between 2000 and 2004 Edna Molewa was a member of the Executive Council on Agriculture, Conservation and Environment Affairs.[5] On 30 April 2004 she became the first woman Premier of the North West Provincial Government, a post she filled until 2009, and is credited with putting the province on a successful track.[3][6] For a short time Molewa was appointed Minister of Social Development, but in 2010 became the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs after a cabinet reshuffle, replacing Buyelwa Sonjica.[7][8] In May 2014 the department was split and Edna Molewa became minister of the new Department of Environmental Affairs, a position she still holds.[3]

Edna Molewa is currently the Head of Communications of the African National Congress Women's League and has been a member of the organization’s National Executive Council since 2003.

Environmental issues

Since assuming her role as Minister of Environmental Affairs Molewa has worked to advance the integrated strategic management of rhinoceros through a variety of conservation-minded efforts approved by the president’s cabinet.[9] Among these efforts are translocation programs, anti-poaching initiatives, sale of rhinoceros to private properties, law enforcement collaboration at all levels, and to conform to CITES regulations on detecting trafficked flora and fauna.[10] Molewa’s administration has supported research into the efficacy of legalizing an international rhinoceros horn trade and has begun programs for translocation of rhino from high-risk areas to low-risk areas both nationally and internationally, and the sale of more than 200 white rhino to private buyers.[11][12] However planned sales of rhinoceros from Kruger National Park to private game reserves in late 2014 were canceled after it was discovered that some of the prospective buyers were owners of hunting reserves.[13][14] One of the alleged buyers had been accused of having business dealings with Dawie Groenewald who has been arrested in the United States for money laundering and selling fraudulent game hunts and was arrested in 2010 in South Africa in relation to illegally killing rhinoceros.[15][16][17]

Molewa has also announced that a 22-member commission would decide whether to propose the international sale of the South African government’s 21 metric ton rhino horn stockpile.[18] Considerations include whether to sell the stockpile as a whole via a government-to-government sale or to petition for an open, regulated sale direct to consumers, a move that has been widely criticized as counterproductive by ecologists.[19][20][21] Conservationists claimed that the idea of a rhino trade is fundamentally flawed and would potentially increase demand.[22][23] There is also concern that funds received from the sale of government-held rhino horn stockpiles would be abused or bypass normal government oversight of its expenditures as is claimed happened to funds from South Africa’s one-off sale of elephant ivory stockpiles.[23]

Under Molewa’s leadership Environmental Affairs has also received criticisms for not releasing quarterly reports in 2015 on rhino poaching or arrests of suspected rhino poachers.[24][25] In an interview Molewa stated that details on successful arrests and convictions would have to be obtained from the individual agencies.[26] Earlier reports had indicated the number of rhino poached each year increasing despite the best efforts of law enforcement agencies and Environmental Affairs.[27]

In 2015 South African environmental groups criticized Molewa’s decision to grant temporary emissions compliance exemptions to South Africa’s largest electricity producer Eskom as well as Sasol, Anglo American Platinum and dozens of others companies.[28] The multi-year exemptions allow Eskom, Sasol, Royal Dutch Shell, among others to postpone implementation of emissions-reducing equipment which would allow them to meet the minimal national standards for air quality defined in South Africa’s National Environmental Management Air Quality Act.[29][30] Sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter emissions reduction standards were set to be in place by April 2015.[31] Environmental Affairs Minister Molewa explained in February 2015 that retrofit postponements would “provide an opportunity for industry to take the necessary action and retrofit their plants to enable them to comply with the standards in the near future, while ensuring that socio-economic growth is not hampered.” [32]


In February 2013, while Minister of Water Affairs, Edna Molewa awarded a R419 million IT contract to Business Connexion instead of using the State Information Technology Agency. The department’s director general refused to sign off on the contract and was suspended by Minister Molewa. As a result, the suspended director general continued to receive a paycheck for roughly two years while fighting charges that were eventually dropped by the new Minister of Water and Sanitation.[33][34]

Large-scale load-shedding events and nationwide blackouts have sparked controversy in 2014 and 2015 after government ministers gave conflicting reasons for the blackouts. While Public Enterprise Minister Malusi Gigaba gave vague reasons which included low water levels at dams, Minister Edna Molewa claimed that wet coal at mines in Mpumalanga were to blame. There has also been public concern over the government’s failure to address investment in energy production which has caused energy companies to struggle to meet demand. Scheduled maintenance on power stations have exacerbated problems with a vulnerable and constrained power grid.[35][36][37]


University of South Africa B.Com, Harvard Kennedy School of Government Leadership course, Wharton Business School Certificate of Economic Leadership Development Programme.[38]


  1. ^ http://www.dsd.gov.za/
  2. ^ WASH News Africa:Edna Molewa replaces Buyelwa Sonjica as Water and Environmental Affairs Minister, top officials suspended Archived 16 July 2012 at Archive.is, 2 November 2010
  3. ^ a b c d e Department of Environmental Affairs:biographies, 26 July 2015
  4. ^ a b People’s Assembly:Ms Edna Molewa, 26 July 2015
  5. ^ a b c Who’s Who South Africa:Edna Molewa, 26 July 2015
  6. ^ "South Africa's new Cabinet ministers". Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  7. ^ "Statement by President Jacob Zuma on the appointment of the new Cabinet". Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  8. ^ "Zuma announces cabinet reshuffle". Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  9. ^ "How we plan to deal with rhino poaching crisis - Edna Molewa". Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  10. ^ "Minister Edna Molewa highlights progress in the war against poaching and plans for 2015". Archived from the original on 23 January 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  11. ^ "South African minister backs legalisation of rhino horn trade". Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  12. ^ "Molewa: Rhino poaching on the rise". Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  13. ^ "Kruger rhino sales canned". Archived from the original on 29 July 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  14. ^ "Rhino could have been sold to hunters". Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  15. ^ "Owners of Safari Company Indicted for Illegal Rhino Hunts". Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  16. ^ "Rhinos sold to canned hunter". Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  17. ^ "US add to 'Groenewald Gang' charge sheet". Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  18. ^ "SA may sell its massive rhino horn stockpile in 2016". Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  19. ^ "SA may sell its massive rhino horn stockpile in 2016". Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  20. ^ "SA pushes for legal trade in rhino horn". Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  21. ^ "Legalizing Rhino Horn Trade Won't Save Species, Ecologist Argues". Retrieved 2015-07-27. 
  22. ^ Untold Africa:A letter to mrs Edna Molewa South Africa’s minister for environmental affairs: Carry on the good work with rhino, but please no more talk of trade, 27 July 2015
  23. ^ a b Mail and Guardian:Misappropriation of ivory funds threatens rhino horn sale, 26 July 2015
  24. ^ The Citizen:Govt remains silent on disastrous rhino poaching stats, 27 July 2015
  25. ^ Wildlife Planet:Edna Molewa has yet to release promised statistics on rhino poaching, 27 July 2015
  26. ^ News 24:Rhino poaching: What the minister says, 27 July 2015
  27. ^ Department of Environmental Affairs:poaching statistics, 27 July 2015
  28. ^ News 24:Molewa enviro reprieve slammed, 27 July 2015
  29. ^ Fin 24:Eskom gets reprieve from emission caps, 27 July 2015
  30. ^ News 24:Sasol profits from pollution - Earthlife, 27 July 2015
  31. ^ RNews:Expect widespread blackouts if Eskom is not granted compliance extension, 27 July 2015
  32. ^ Bloomberg:South Africa gives companies more time to meet emissions limits, 27 July 2015
  33. ^ Corruption Watch.za:R3 million to stay home, 27 July 2015
  34. ^ Independent Online:Paid over r3 million to stay at home, 27 July 2015
  35. ^ SABC:Ministers battle to explain power blackouts, 27 July 2015
  36. ^ Corruption Watch.za:Parliament part 1: Its role in our society, 27 July 2015
  37. ^ Fin 24:Stage 2 load shedding implemented, 27 July 2015
  38. ^ http://whoswho.co.za/edna-molewa-3283

External links

  • Interview with Edna Molewa, South Africa’s Minister for Water and Environmental Affairs, on Durban meeting and common strategy - broadcast on Radio France Internationale
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