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Alfred Baphethuxolo Nzo

Alfred Baphethuxolo Nzo
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
President Nelson Mandela
Preceded by Pik Botha
Succeeded by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
Secretary General of the ANC
In office
Succeeded by Cyril Ramaphosa
Personal details
Born (1925-06-19)19 June 1925
Benoni, Gauteng
Died 13 January 2000(2000-01-13) (aged 74)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Resting place Westpark Cemetery, Johannesburg
Nationality South African
Political party African National Congress

Alfred Baphethuxolo Nzo (19 June 1925 – 13 January 2000[1]) was a South African politician. He served as the longest-standing secretary-general of the African National Congress. He occupied this position (ANC) between 1969 and 1991. He was also the South African minister of foreign affairs from 1994 to 1999. He was also the first black health inspector in the country. The Alfred Nzo Award is now awarded to deserving health practitioners in South Africa.

Political career

He was sent off to the Eastern Cape to receive missionary education. After completing his matric, he enrolled for BSc degree at Fort Hare University in 1945. At Fort Hare he joined the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League and became actively involved in students politics. In his second year of study he left university and started work as health inspector at KwaDukathole in Germiston and was later transferred to the Alexandra health and community centre in 1951.

As health inspector, Nzo developed much understanding of the lives of millions of South Africans in the 1950s. He got actively involved in the organising of the Defiance Campaign in 1952. He was also involved in the campaign to interview people about the kind of society in which they would like to live. It was this campaign that culminated in the Congress of the People in 1955, at which the Freedom Charter was adopted.

In 1956 Nzo was elected the chairperson of ANC branch in Alexandra. In 1957 he organised the Alexandra bus boycotts in which people walked nine miles from the township to town and back every day for three months to protest the increase in fares. His involvement in political activities cost him his job. His expulsion from work meant that he also lost his residential permit to live in Alexandra. He was subsequently arrested several times and finally sentenced to five months imprisonment for not having a residence permit. He served his sentence at Modderbee Prison, where his father once worked.

In 1958, Nzo was elected to the regional and national executive committees of the ANC. In 1962, He was placed under 24-hour house arrest and on June 1963 he was detained for a period of 238 days. The following year, Nzo went into exile and took up posts in various countries including Egypt, India, Zambia and Tanzania.

In 1969, Nzo was elected ANC Secretary-General at the Morogoro Conference in Tanzania. He was re-elected to this position at the Kwabe Conference in 1985. After the unbanning of the liberation movements in 1989, Nzo formed part of the ANC delegation that entered into deliberations with the National Party government.[2] Nzo lost the position of Secretary-General to Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC July 1991 National Conference held in South Africa for the first time after the unbanning of the liberation movements. He was then elected deputy head of the ANC's security department.

After the first democratic elections, Nzo was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in the government of Nelson Mandela.

After 1999 national elections, Nzo retired from politics and in December of the same year he suffered a stroke. He was buried at the Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg


  1. ^
  2. ^
Political offices
Preceded by
Pik Botha
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
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