By Koketso Mamabolo



Honourable Khumbudzo Ntshavheni was always going to be a leader, it was just a question of which sector she would lend her passion and drive to. As it turns out, the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies has seen her career rise in both the public and private sectors, where she has been a stellar example to young women looking to make inroads as entrepreneurs and civil servants.

Born in Sibasa, in what was then the Transvaal province, just over a year after the student uprisings of 1976, the young Minister has received a lot of attention for being one of the youngest members in the executive. Something she recognises, and is willing to leverage to the benefit of other young people, particularly young women. “What Khumbudzo being a minister at a young age and being a female does, is it inspires all the other young people who are female to aspire that it is possible to be in there (sic),” said the Minister, speaking to ITU News.

She is aware of how much influence she can have on empowering women and furthering the development goals which seek to bring more women into the economy. The opportunities need to be made available because the capabilities are already there: “If you can cook the supper, you can sit at the table, and you can decide what cutlery you use on that table. For me, that’s what we are here for: to make sure that we create a table for women to sit at.”

After a stint as a junior lecturer at the University of South Africa (UNISA), Hon. Ntshavheni became the first female and the youngest South African to be appointed as the spokesperson of a Premier, when she served under Premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi in the Limpopo province. The Minister’s career in civil service continued in the Department of Local Government and Housing (Limpopo) and was followed by a position as Tourism Manager for Trade and Investment Limpopo from 2006 to 2007.

At the time of her appointment as the Municipal Manager for the Ba-Phalaborwa Municipal Council in April of 2008, she was the youngest Municipal Manager in the country, a position which she served in until November of 2010.

“…age, gender and race have no bearing on my ability to achieve my set targets despite the obstacles,” the Minister told City Press.

Before making her way into politics, first as a Member of Parliament, then as a Minister in President Ramaphosa’s cabinet, the Minister had business interests in agriculture and the fast-moving consumer goods industry. She is the Founding Director and Chairperson of Nkho Trading, a “transport business with interests in property development”. That experience made her an ideal candidate for Minister of Small Business Development, a position she held from 2019 until 2021, when she was moved to the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.

“…a product of SME. I take after my mother in this, and I have been active in the sector for a while,” said the Minister at the time of her appointment to the top post at the Department of Small Business Development. The Minister’s mother worked in the taxi industry and her father ran a general store, two sectors which will no doubt benefit from the progress in the licensing of spectrum which the Minister has made since her appointment.


Did you know?

When she was just 14, Hon. Ntshavheni presented a case to President Nelson Mandela for making 16 the voting age for South Africans. Speaking to City Press, in 2019, the Minister joked: “I am sure my boss [President Ramaphosa] remembered it when he considered me for this role.”


  • BA Hons. Development Studies – Rand Afrikaans University (1999)
  • BA Hons. Labour Relations – Rand Afrikaans University (1999)
  • MBA – University of Bradford, United Kingdom (2008)