The Next Africa Women's World

A story of Kenewendo, Makhaya, Leoka: Women rise to the fore in southern Africa

JOHANNESBURG-The southern African region has served the world with a phenomenal story of coming-to-the-fore of three women who are formidable intellectuals in the field of economics.

Bogolo Kenewendo: Appointed as Botswana’s minister of investment trade and industry.

Trudy Makhaya:  Appointed as an economic advisor to South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Thabi Leoka: Appointed into South Africa’s independent panel of experts for the review of the current list of Value Added Tax (VAT) zero-rated food items.

Their recent appointments have caused a wave of appreciations as a symbol of black women economic advancement. Theirs is no ordinary economic advancement as it’s not about mundane economic participation but carving the ideas that shape economic participation.


Bogolo Kenewendo

The 31 years old Kenewendo was appointed a minister of investment trade and industry by the new President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi. Her ascendance was no surprise given her proven leadership qualities that have been well recognised and recorded over the years.

Kenewendo became the talk of the town in 2016 when she became the youngest member that Botswana’s parliament has ever had. This followed an already illustrious career as an economist intellectual backed by a master degree from the University of Sussex. This is after she had earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Botswana with a thesis that dealt with “Access to credit to women-owned businesses”.

Kenewendo developed to become a specialist in international trade. She then became one of two Botswana youth delegates to the 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Kenewendo has already served at a high level. Before taking up the Botswana political post she was working as a trade economist in the ministry of trade and industry in Ghana. Before that, she was employed as an economic consultant at Econsult Botswana.

She’s fierce in her intellectual engagements on economics. One article quotes her shortly after her 2016 appointment saying it was time for Botswana to up the ante in economic development terms given an unimpressive postcolonial record.

Kenewendo was born and bred in Botswana in a village called Motopi in the Boteti area.

Thabi Leoka

Leoka was appointed by South Africa’s finance minister into an independent panel of experts for the review of the current list of Value Added Tax (VAT) zero-rated food items. This is a critical position that will engrave her name permanently into the list of the country’s significant economic thinkers.

The ascendance of Leoka into a position of political significance was long coming given space she’s carved for herself in public debates. And she’s promised to do public service in one way or the other if the following quote is anything to go by: “Being a South African brought up under apartheid, and watching my country disintegrate, I think one day working in Government is something that I would do.”

She’s become a go-to-person for interpretation of politico-economic events. That’s befitting for a career laced with a PhD in Economics from the University of London, MSc in Economics and Economic History from the London School of Economics and MA (Distinction) from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Leoka was named the Economist of The Year 2017 by ABSIP. This was for her succinct thoughts when analysing the economic affairs on a number of local and international titles.

Leoka started her career as an Economist at Investec Asset Management in South Africa and London. She has also worked as an Emerging Markets Economist at Barclays in London, head of Economic Research at Standard Bank SA and the Chief Economist at Renaissance Capital.

Trudi Makhaya

Makhaya has become part of the team brought in by South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, to win back economic fortunes for the country. She becomes Ramaphosa’s economic advisor and coordinator of the special investment envoy also appointed by the president. The team made of Trevor Manuel, Mcebisi Jonas, Jacques Marie and Phumzile Langeni, is mandated to draw investment into the country.

That places Makhaya at the forefront of South Africa’s efforts to revive its ailing economy. The 40 years old Makhaya brings to the position wealth of experience in and around economic thought.

She comes straight out of running her own concern called Makhaya Advisory, a research, advisory and stakeholder engagement firm.

Makhaya’s base is made up of an MBA and an MSc in Development Economics from Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar. She also holds degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand, including a Masters’ in Economics and a BCom (Law).
Makhaye was an economist and later a member of the executive committee at the Competition Commission of South Africa from 2010 to 2014. Prior to joining the Competition Commission in 2010, she held various management consulting and corporate roles at Deloitte South Africa, Genesis Analytics and AngloGold Ashanti.

She’s aired strong and critical views about South Africa’s economic trajectory in the past.

The story was first published by

New African Gazette
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