Parks Tau, deputy minister – the wildcard

Mpho Franklyn Parks Tau, born in 1970 and raised in Orlando West, is the former Johannesburg mayor and probably the most famous casualty of the ANC’s poor 2016 local government elections results.

In an unexpected late move, Tau was announced as one of two deputy ministers of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday.

The second deputy is Obed Bapela, while Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma heads up the portfolio as minister.

Many had expected Tau, who is the ANC in Gauteng’s provincial treasurer, to be announced as an MEC in the Gauteng provincial legislature this week.

He was the mayor of South Africa’s biggest metro from 2011 until 2016, when the ANC lost the city of gold to a DA-led coalition government.

He had garnered a reputation in the party as a local government guru.


Tau is also the chairperson of the South African Local Government Association (Salga), an influential association that acts as a point of contact for municipalities around the country as they engage with the other two spheres of government.

His involvement in politics has its genesis in the years of the struggle against apartheid when, at the age of fourteen, he joined the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) and engaged in student activism.

In the democratic era, Tau ascended to the position of member of mayoral committee (MMC) of Johannesburg in 2000 where he oversaw the portfolios of Developmental Planning, Environment and Transportation from 2000 to 2003.

He also oversaw the Finance and Economic Development portfolio between 2003 and 2011.

In 2017, after exiting the mayor’s office, Tau was appointed as a co-chair of the United Nations High Level Independent Panel to oversee the effectiveness of the Habitat III, a programme adopted by the UN to “reinvigorate the global commitment to sustainable urbanisation”.

In 2018, delegates elected Tau to the Provincial Executive Committee of Gauteng as treasurer.

Tau is not a member of the National Assembly in the 6th Parliament.

His appointment to national government, in a ministerial role, is made possible by a Constitutional provision that affords the president the power to draw two members to his or her Cabinet from outside of the National Assembly.

The other MP appointed to Cabinet who does not occupy a seat in the National Assembly is Ebrahim Patel, who, while not making it as an MP on the ANC’s national assembly list, returns as minister of the combined trade, industry and economic development portfolio.

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