Former President Kgalema Motlanthe was recently awarded the Top Empowerment Lifetime Achiever award and says that he believes this accolade should serve to inspire others to devote their lives to the transformation of this country.

Please speak about the journey of transformation in South Africa over the last 25 years. What were the major milestones in terms of victories and challenges?

The democratic dispensation meant that for the first time the disenfranchised section of the population was now included – we now had universal suffrage and could work on the challenging and ongoing journey of building a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa of our dreams.

Twenty-five years is the silver jubilee of South Africa’s democracy, a milestone to be celebrated, however, we must continue striving to reach for a democracy with a government of the people, by the people, and accountable to the people. The people are central in any democracy. People should not be left out, marginalised or unheard. People do not only have concerns, complaints and requests, they also have suggestions – they need to be heard and considered.

We must recognise the weaknesses over the past years as small steps towards strengthening our democracy – it is important for us to reflect on and analyse our journey of transformation and learn the lessons needed to improve and advance democracy in South Africa. The National Development Plan (NDP) calls for a capable State. We need to create and strengthen the State so that it preserves institutional memory and capabilities by placing the authority to select and appoint senior managers, i.e. Directors General in the Public Service Commission and to appoint them on a permanent basis as opposed to the current contract system.

How important is the role of education in reducing the gini coefficient in South Africa?

Education is very important; it is the best equaliser. Education is a key pillar in our Foundation, and we place the wellbeing of our nation at the heart of our work with the belief that equipping learners with 21st century skills will help prepare South Africa for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and lay the fundamental building blocks to creating an inclusive society.

We are invested in and committed to creating an environment that boosts access to technology and drives digital literacy – these are the keys to unlocking the potential for our youth to create a positive, connected and inclusive future in the digital age.

Our education programmes include “Artificial Intelligence in Africa”, a girls-only educational bootcamp that addresses the systematic exclusion of youth in a variety of 21st century careers. “AI in Africa” is a powerful platform for girls to acquire new tools and knowledge, and improve their prospects at female digital inclusion. This nationwide initiative teaches youth the concepts and ethics of digital technology and how to apply technology to their daily lives to create solutions for their communities.

In partnership with the Malungani Family and Peu Group, we are also opening a maths, science, coding and music academy for high school learners in Giyani, Limpopo. We hope to roll out more academies across South Africa to serve the needs of our youth.

We are proud to announce the Kgalema Motlanthe will be gracing the cover of the 19th edition of Top Empowerment. Order your copy to read the full interview. Email