Top Rated Political Analyst and Media Personality
Melanie Verwoerd is a top rated political analyst and media personality from Cape Town, South Africa. She is highly sought after for her knowledge of political developments and current affairs in South- and southern Africa.
Melanie was born into an Afrikaner family and grew up during the height of Apartheid in South Africa. At the age of twenty she married Wilhelm Verwoerd, the grandson of the former Apartheid Prime Minister HF Verwoerd, generally regarded as the architect of Apartheid. In 1990, after a brief spell at Oxford in the UK and following the unbanning of the ANC, she and her then husband returned to South Africa.
Shortly after their return Melanie met with Nelson Mandela, who encouraged her to “use her surname and voice for the bigger good”. She stunned many by joining the ANC. Her political involvement also led to her being ostracized by her community and numerous death threats from the far-right Afrikaner movements. During the first democratic elections in 1994, Melanie was elected as a Member of Parliament for the ANC under the presidency of Nelson Mandela. At the age of 27 she was the youngest female MP in the history of the South African parliament. During her time in parliament she worked closely with amongst others Nelson Mandela and participated in the writing of the South African Constitution. She was re-elected in 1999 and in 2001 was appointed as South African Ambassador to Ireland.
During her time as Ambassador exports from South Africa to Ireland increased with 60%, FDI from Ireland increased sevenfold and tourism from Ireland to South Africa with 135%. There was also a huge increase in South African wine imports. After her term of office ended in 2005 she was appointed as the Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland, a position she held until 2011.
Between 2005 and 2007 Melanie presented Spectrum, a weekly radio show on Rté (the national broadcaster in Ireland). The programme was nominated for the best short interview in Ireland at the PPI awards and best multi-cultural show in Ireland at the MAMA awards. She also presented a series on feminism called What happened to the F-word? for Rté.
Melanie wrote regular columns on current affairs for the Daily Mail in Ireland during that time.
Since her return to South Africa in 2013, she advises companies (both domestically and internationally) on political developments in South Africa and Africa. She does regular roadshows to asset management companies and other financial institutions.
Melanie has a weekly column on www.news24.com and also does high profile radio interviews for EWN, 702 and Cape Talk.
She continues to write opinion pieces for the Irish Times and Sunday Business Post in Ireland. She also does regular radio pieces for “World report” on Rté Radio one.
Melanie has also written for the Mail and Guardian, City Press and Die Burger in South Africa. She has presented the John Maytham and Redi Tlabi radio shows on Cape Talk and 702.
Her best selling memoir, When We Dance was published in Ireland in November 2012. It entered the Irish bestseller list at number two and reached number one the next week. It remained in the top 10 best sellers for six weeks. The book was also published in South Africa in May 2013 under the title, “The Verwoerd who toyi-toyied”. Melanie’s next book, Our Madiba: Stories and reflections of those who met Nelson Mandela” was launched in 2014 by Archbishop Tutu. Her newest book 21 at 21: A nation coming of age was published June 2015 and features interviews with South Africans born in 1994. It was published in Germany by Peter Hammerverlag in 2017.
In 2007 Melanie received the International Woman of the Year Award in Ireland.
In 2018 she was ranked one of the top two political analysts in South Africa in the Financial Mail analysts’ ratings.