Dr Pallo Jordan

Dr Pallo Jordan
Portfolio History: 
  • Minister of Arts and Culture (2004-2009)

  • Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (1996-1999)

  • Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Broadcasting (1996)

Zweledinga Pallo Jordan was born in Kroonstad in the Orange Free State on 22 May 1942, the son of Priscilla Phyllis (born Ntantala) Jordan, a teacher and researcher, and Dr Archibald Campbell Jordan, a lecturer in "Bantu" languages at Fort Hare University.

The family moved to Athlone in Cape Town and Jordan matriculated fromAthlone High School. Both his parents were activists and when he enrolled at UCT, he was similarly inclined. By 1960 he had joined the ANC and began serious Marxist studies. His father obtained a Carnegie fellowship after major promotion at For Hare, but was refused a passport. The family nevertheless left South Africa for the USA.

In the USA Jordan, whilst completing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin and later his post graduate at the London School of Economics, continued with his Marxist associations, but amongst its academic “non-communist” followers. By 1975, he was working full-time for the ANC in its London-based information wing, moving to Luanda, Angola, in 1977 to head Radio Freedom and in 1980 to Lusaka, Zambia, to head the ANC Research Unit of the Department of Information and Publicity. He rose in the ranks of the ANC and returned to South Africa after its unbanning in 1990.

Pallo Jordan was sworn in as a member of Parliament and minister for posts, telecommunications and broadcasting after the April 1994 elections. In 1996 he was appointed as minister of environmental affairs and tourism after a cabinet reshuffle, a position he held until 1999. He served as chairperson of the foreign affairs portfolio committee from 2002 to 2004, when he became minister of arts and culture, a position he held until 2009.