South Africa: While She Admits Protocol Is Not Her Strong Point, So Far So Good for Naledi Pandor On the World Diplomatic Stage


Foreign policy surprises are unlikely with newly appointed International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor, but her love for education looks set to shine through in her new portfolio. The big question will be whether her lack of experience in diplomacy will be a boon or bust for the challenges the country is set to face?

Naledi Pandor might be South Africa's arch-diplomat with a roomy parliamentary office on the 17th floor in Cape Town's Plein Street, but she still can make a journalist feel like a naughty school child facing the principal. During our interview, the day after President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address, it was unnervingly clear that a thousand other urgencies were pressing on her in the new office, despite her grace in granting the interview. She was a little impatient, even irritable: a 100-day interview would have been more apt, she remarked.

"I was surprised initially, but my surprise soon ended, because we always say, wherever we are deployed, we will work," she said about her appointment to the new portfolio earlier in June 2019.

She doesn't say so, but must have been somewhat devastated after spending four years of hard slog and sleepless...

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