Jay Naidoo

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Jay Naidoo (Jayaseelan Naidoo, born in 1954[1]) is a South African politician and businessman who served as the founding General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) from 1985 to 1993.[2] He then served as Minister responsible for the Reconstruction and Development Programme in the first post-apartheid cabinet of President Nelson Mandela (1994–1996)[3] and as Minister of Post, Telecommunications, and Broadcasting (1996–1999).

Naidoo was a member of the NEC of the African National Congress. He was at the forefront of the struggle against apartheid leading the largest trade union federation in South Africa.

Early life and education

Born in 1954, Naidoo enrolled at the University of Durban-Westville to study for a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in pursuance of a medical career in 1975 to be a medical doctor but his studies were interrupted by the political turmoil at the time because of student uprisings.


Political career

Naidoo became active in the South African Students' Organisation (SASO) that was banned in 1977 just after its leader Steve Biko was murdered in police detention.[4] He then became a community-based organizer working with grassroots civic structures. He joined the Federation of South African Trade Unions as a volunteer in 1979. Naidoo was later appointed Secretary General of the Sweet, Food and Allied Workers' Union (SFAWU). In this capacity, he led the country's largest ever nationwide strike with around 3.5 million participants in 1991, paralyzing factories and businesses across South Africa and leaving people without the basic services normally provided by black employees.[5]

In 1995, Naidoo served on the selection panel appointed by President Mandela to interview and shortlist candidates for South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Later career

From 2002 until 2015, Naidoo was Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Partnership Council of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) headquartered in Geneva and launched at the 2002 UN Summit on Children as a public private partnership to tackle malnutrition facing 2 billion people in the world. He is the founder of the social development arm of an investment and management company, J&J Group, which he co-founded in 2000 in South Africa.

From 2001 to 2010, Naidoo served as Chairperson of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), the premier development finance institution driving infrastructure in the SADC region.

In 2010, Naidoo reportedly sold off a third of his stake in J&J Group and donated the proceeds to two unnamed charitable trusts.[6] He has published his autobiography, ‘Fighting for Justice’ and more recently published his book 'Change: Organising Tomorrow, Today.'

In 2013, at the request of the French Minister of Development, Pascal Canfin, Naidoo co-authored a report (with Emmanuel Faber) on reforming Official Development Assistance.[7] That same year, he chaired an international inquiry into labour rights violations in Swaziland, alongside Alec Muchadehama, Paul Verryn and Nomthetho Simelane.[8]

Other activities

Corporate boards

  • Old Mutual, Non-Executive Member of the Board of Directors (since 2007)[9]
  • Hystra, Member of the Advisory Board[10]

Non-profit organizations

  • Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Member of the Board
  • Advanced Development for Africa (ADA), Member of the International Advisory Board (since 2013)[11]
  • 'Earthrise Trust', Member of the Board of Trustees
  • International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Member of the Telecom Board[12]
  • ‘Scatterlings of Africa’, Patron
  • LoveLife South Africa, Member of the Board of Trustees (2003–2010)


For his accomplishments Naidoo has gained many honors, including becoming the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Legion of Honour), one of France’s highest decorations, and received the ‘Drivers for Change Award’ from the Southern African Trust and Mail & Guardian newspaper in October 2010.

His most recent awards include the Kuzwayo Award from the University of Johannesburg, in November 2012, as well as an Honorary Doctorate Technology Degree in Engineering and the Built Environment from the Durban University of Technology, awarded September 2013.

Personal life

Jay Naidoo is married to Lucie Pagé, an award-winning French-Canadian writer and journalist, and regards his three children as his greatest achievement.


  1. ^ sahoboss (2012-10-05). "Jayaseelen Naidoo". South African History Online. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  2. ^ Andrew England (August 26, 2012) Unions turn Marikana to political ends Financial Times.
  3. ^ Bill Keller (May 12, 1994), Mandela Completes His Cabinet, Giving Buthelezi a Post New York Times.
  4. ^ http://www.anc.org.za/people/naidoo.html
  5. ^ Christopher S. Wren (November 5, 1991), Strike by Blacks Paralyzes South Africa New York Times.
  6. ^ Mfonobong Nsehe (August 5, 2011), Five Notable African Philanthropists Forbes.
  7. ^ Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Développement international. "Innover par la mobilisation des acteurs : une nouvelle approche de l'aide au développement : rapport d'Emmanuel Faber et Jay Naidoo". France Diplomatie :: Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Développement international. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  8. ^ Labour meeting stopped by Swazi police The Citizen, September 6, 2013.
  9. ^ OM appoints Jay Naidoo to Life Assurance Board Old Mutual, press release of April 24, 2007.
  10. ^ Advisory Board Hystra.
  11. ^ International Advisory Board Advanced Development for Africa (ADA).
  12. ^ Advisory Bodies International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

External links

  • [1], Naidoo's social justice blog
Political offices
Preceded by
Jordan Z.P.
Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services.
Succeeded by
Casaburri, I.F.M
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