Thabang Makwetla

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Thabang Sampson Phathakge Makwetla
Thabang Makwetla.jpg
Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans
Assumed office
29 May 2019
PresidentCyril Ramaphosa
Preceded byKebby Maphatsoe
Personal details
Born (1957-05-18) May 18, 1957 (age 65)
Middelburg, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa
NationalitySouth African
ResidenceSouth Africa

Thabang Sampson Phathakge Makwetla is a South African politician and member of the African National Congress. He is the current Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, a role he previously served in between 2009 and 2014.[1]

Early life and exile

Makwetla left South Africa in the wake of the June 1976 students uprising. He lived as an exiled person in Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia, Angola. Thabang Makwetla returned to South Africa after the unbanning of political organizations in 1990.[2]


He left South Africa in the middle of his matriculation examinations in 1976 and matriculated from Mmabathoana High School, Maseru, Lesotho in 1977. Makwetla received a Diploma in Political Sciences from Sofia Academy of Social Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria 1982. Upon return from exile, Thabang Makwetla received a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Policy and Development Administration (PPDA) from Witwatersrand University, South Africa 1993. He also underwent military training in USSR in 1979.[2]

Fight Against Apartheid

He joined South African Student Movement (SASM), as a high school student in 1974.

After he went into exile, Makwetla joined the ANC and its military wing in Lesotho in 1977. He also functioned as an instructor and Political Commissar in ANC Camps in Angola. In 1984, he became a front commander and head of the ANC underground structures in Botswana. He was the Chair and Secretary of the Regional Political Military Committee (RPMC) in Botswana from 1984 to 1989.

Thabang Makwetla also served as treasurer of the South African Communist Party (SACP-Regional Executive Committee) in Botswana, from 1981 to 1990. Post-1990, Makwetla became a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC Youth League. He served as Head of Student Affairs; Peace Desk and the Religious Front until January 1994.[2]

Political Career

After the elections of April 1994, which ushered in a democratically elected government, he served as a duly elected Member of Parliament and participated in the following portfolios:

  • The Joint Standing Committee on Defence.
  • The Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence.
  • Standing Committee on Public Accounts
  • Portfolio Committee on Finance
  • Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism until 1995.
  • Portfolio Committee on Sports and Recreation.
  • Adhoc Committee on the Youth Commission Bill.
  • Alternate member of the Finance Committee.
  • Member of the Ministerial Task Group on Civic Education in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF)[2]

He also served as the Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and was Premier of Mpumalanga province between 2004 and 2009.[1]

In the ANC he has held the following positions:

  • Elected Chairperson of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus from 1996 – 2001
  • Appointed as the MEC for Safety and Security in Mpumalanga Province in July 2001.
  • Member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC from 2001 - 2007
  • Elected to the ANC's Provincial Executive Committee (PEC), Mpumalanga Province from 2002 - 2007[2]


Being Held Hostage

On 14 October 2021, Makwetla was one of three government officials held hostage by the Liberation Struggle War Veterans, which was established when the MK Military Veterans Association was disbanded as an ANC structure.

Thabang Makwetla was held hostage together with Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele and Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise at the St George's Hotel.

The ministers were rescued at 2am by the Special Task Force, which is headed by General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi.

Lwazi Mzobe denied the two ministers and deputy minister had been taken hostage, although the government and police labelled it a hostage event.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Introducing the new Minister and Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, South African Government, Published: May 14, 2009, Retrieved: October 18, 2021
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Former Premier of Mpumalanga,, Published: No Date Given, Retrieved: October 18, 2021
  3. Military vets leader who took two ministers and a deputy minister hostage works for eThekwini Municipality, Daily Maverick, Published: October 15, 2021, Retrieved: October 15, 2021