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South African Minister of Science and Technology
South Africa

Derek Hanekom is the Minister of Science and Technology in the South African Government.

He was born in Cape Town, South Africa on 13 January 1953 and did his schooling in Cape Town. After completing his compulsory conscription he travelled abroad for three years, working on farms, in factories and on construction sites. He returned to South Africa in his early twenties and farmed for six years.

It was his arrest for participating in a peaceful candlelight demonstration at John Vorster Square, the Police Headquarters in Johannesburg that prompted the start of his active political life in 1976. He and his wife Patricia joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1980, and did underground political work while farming on a smallholding in Magaliesburg.

Amongst other things, they provided the ANC with information about the apartheid defence force's attempts to overthrow the Mozambican government through the rebel movement, Renamo. This led to their arrest in 1983, initially charged with High Treason, but subsequently reduced to lesser charges as a result of the international sensitivity of the case.

After serving a three year period in prison, Derek worked with the trade union movement in Johannesburg, until his wife's release from prison in 1987, and subsequent deportation to Zimbabwe. They spent the following three years in exile in Zimbabwe. During this period Derek served as the co-ordinator of the Popular History Trust in Harare. He returned to South Africa after the unbanning of political organizations in 1990, to work at the headquarters of the ANC, where he was responsible for policy formulation on land and agricultural matters during the period of negotiations prior to the first democratic elections in 1994.

He served as Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs from 1994 to 1999, piloting various reform bills through Parliament which aimed to redress the injustices and inequities caused by apartheid laws and the 1913 Land Act. This legislation laid the foundation for land reform in the post-apartheid era.

During the period 1999 - 2004 he served as a Member of Parliament on various Parliamentary Committees. He served as Deputy Minister of Science and Technology from April 2004 was promoted Minister of Science and Technology in October 2012.

He was re-elected to the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC), a committee he has served in since 1994. He was elected to serve on the National Working Committee of the NEC and is the Chairperson of the National Disciplinary Committee.

He also serves as the Deputy Chairperson of the Board of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

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