From left are Ambassador Lindner, Naledi Pandor, Eva Ziegert (Head of Education, Research, Science and Technology at the German Embassy Pretoria) and Zolani Matthews, Pandor’s brother. (© German Embassy Pretoria)

South African Minister awarded Germany’s Grand Cross of Merit

Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology, was awarded with the Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany at the residence of the German Ambassador in Pretoria on 22 April. On behalf of the German President, Ambassador Walter Lindner presented the Order to Ms Pandor in front of over 100 high-level guests.

The minister has been actively promoting the bilateral partnership between South Africa and Germany, the ambassador said. She spearheaded the German-South African Year of Science 2012/13 and was key to its design and orientation, he noted. The Year of Science gave rise to several collaboration programmes between Germany and South Africa. A recent example is the bilateral Research Chair in Safe Mining at a South African university.  South Africa is Germany’s most important partner in the field of science and research in Africa.

“With the Grand Cross of Merit we recognize Naledi Pandor’s continuous efforts to deepen co-operation between our two countries,” Ambassador Lindner emphasizes. “Naledi Pandor is for us a symbol of the new South Africa: modern, innovative, dedicated to scientific progress and also outstanding female leadership.”

Returning to South Africa from exile, Naledi Pandor decided to enter the political arena and she became a Member of Parliament for the ANC in the first democratic elections of South Africa in 1994. Pandor quickly convinced with her political talent and filled the post of deputy chief whip of the ANC in the National Assembly from 1995 onwards. 

Owing to her expertise and background in teaching, Pandor was appointed Minister of Education in 2004. In that capacity, she exercised significant influence on post-Apartheid education policy. She can also be credited for the fact that three-quarters of today’s university students in South Africa belong to previously disadvantaged population groups. 

“I am humbled by this privilege of being honoured this way by the president of the Federal Republic of Germany. In particular I am pleased that we have been able to benefit from very strong relations with the science community in Germany,” said Pandor.

Germany’s Federal Cross of Merit

Germany’s Federal Cross of Merit was introduced in 1951 to “visibly express recognition and gratitude to deserving men and women of the German people and of foreign countries, on the second Anniversary of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is awarded for achievements that served the reconstruction of the country in the fields of political, socio-economic and intellectual activity, and is intended as an award for all those whose work contributes to the peaceful rise of the Federal Republic of Germany.”

As a recipient of the Order of Merit, the 63-year old minister will join the ranks of influential people like Egyptian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mohammed el-Baradei and South African anti-Apartheid figure Denis Goldberg.

© German Embassy Pretoria

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