Tribute to Dr Vuyokazi Mahlati

Today the IWFSA board and members join the global IWF community as we mourn the passing of our beloved  IWF South Africa esteemed member and IWF global president designate Dr Vuyokazi Mahlati, a champion for equality, an entrepreneur, mentor and inspiration to many.

Dr Vuyo Mahlati
Dr Vuyo Mahlati

Dr Vuyo Mahlati was passionate about women’s issues and leadership development. IWF South Africa was founded 19 years ago when its patron, Mrs Zanele Mbeki, together with a group of women leaders, set up a South African chapter of the IWF. Dr Vuyo was determined to work with her forum sisters to make it a success, remaining true to the forum’s mission throughout her life. She was an inspiring and unifying force, and her impact on the forum will be felt for years to come. 

Her passion was helping emerging women leaders. At the global level, Vuyo contributed in many ways, including, serving a second term as the President of theIWFSA (2011 – 2015),   was appointed in 2013 as global director for the Leadership Foundation Board, and co-chair for the IWF Cornerstone Conference 2015 in Johannesburg, served on the IWF Presidents’ Council, a body of 70 plus President of IWF forums globally across 6 continents. She was recently nominated unopposed as the 2021-2023 as IWF Global President with her term of office for 2 years due to start end October 2020.

Vuyo’s influence and passion was recognized on many levels – In May 2010 she was appointed by the President to serve as one of the inaugural members of South Africa’s National Planning Commission for five years responsible for crafting the National Development Plan.  As the Commissioner she chaired the working group on the Capable and Developmental State, as well as Spatial Transformation. She was also the Deputy Chairperson of the Panel of Experts tasked with developing the Integrated Urban Development Framework for South Africa.

Vuyo born and bred in Makhanda (Grahamstown) in the Eastern Cape, obtained her PhD from Stellenbosch University. Her thesis, focusing on the role of value chains in mainstreaming rural entrepreneurs into global markets was the only one selected by the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences to be presented at the University’s New Voices in Science Colloquium. Vuyo’s leadership draws from vast experience as a policy specialist trained in the UK London School of Economics as well as her corporate leadership and entrepreneurship. She was appointed in September 2013 to serve as the Deputy Chair of the State Information Technology Agency. Her other directorships include being the non-executive director of Lion of Africa Insurance Company, a subsidiary of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Listed Brimstone Investment Company. She served two terms as the Chairperson of the South African Post Office Board of Directors which includes the Post Bank. Here she led the corporatization strategy from traditional to digital business in mail, logistics and banking. She previously served for two terms on the Financial Markets Advisory Board as well as member of the Financial Services Board Licensing Committee. She was a director of Alexkor Mining Board, and fund manager Umbono Capital (now One Stone). Vuyo’s entrepreneurial experience includes participation in major business ventures that include the listed Sasol Oil and Tongaat Hullet. As the Principal Consultant and Co-owner of African Financial Group her investment portfolio targets financial services and resource-based industries in emerging markets.

As a recognized global thought leader Vuyo participated in global think tanks on corporate diversity leadership and inclusive development. She served as a member of the Global Advisory Council of Corporate Women Directors International based in Washington DC, USA. Vuyo was also a member of Impact Hub Global Advisory Council, an entrepreneurial network with HQ in Vienna, Austria. In 2011 she participated in the 2011 Aspen Seminar in Colorado, USA, as well as the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. She was the Committee member that produced the 25 year Gauteng Province Integrated Transport Strategy (Africa’s gateway). Vuyo was the recipient of the 2008 Black Management Forum Presidential Award for Transformational Leadership, as well as the Black Business Executive/ABSA Kaelo (Guidance and wisdom) Award. In 2012 she was the finalist for the 11th Van Ryn’s BBQ Public Visionary Award.

Vuyo was consistently recognized for her work in community development and regarded as a pioneer in transformation and change management. She was a generous contributor of ideas, advice and resources to advance the IWF mission. More recently she is known to be the founder of Africa’s first indigenous wool processing plant in Butterworth, in the Eastern Cape and founder of the Ivilli and Dedani Brand. She was Principal Consultant and Co-owner of the African Financial Group(AFG) with husband Dr Gil Mahlati responsible for Pan African and Emerging Markets Innovative Financial Solutions.

Our deepest condolences go out to her husband Gil, her 2 children Siseko and Lilitha, family, friends and IWF sisters.

I’m nurtured by being in nature – I love forest walks and game drives – and by being with the people I love.’ – Dr Vuyokazi Felicity Mahlati 

We are deeply appreciative of everything you did for IWF South Africa, IWF Global, The World and the next generation of women leaders.
President, Vice President and Board of Directors
IWF South Africa 


Directors:  Ms. Irene Charnley (President), Ms. Victoria Nolitha Fakude (Vice President)
Ms. Lesego Judith Sennelo (Treasurer), Ms. Dorothy Mary Field (Secretary)
Ms. June Bernadette Crawford, Dr. Nomonde Buyisiwe Mabuya,
Dr. Precious Elizabeth Makgosi Moloi-Motsepe, Ms. Ntombifuthi Mtoba,
Ms. Mmakeaya Magoro Tryphosa Ramano