Jay Naidoo (Jayaseelan Naidoo, born in 1954) is the founding General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions from 1985 to 1993. He then served as Minister responsible for the Reconstruction and Development Programme in President Mandela’s office (1994–1996) and as Minister of Post, Telecommunications, and Broadcasting (1996–1999). Naidoo was a member of the NEC of the African National Congress. He was at the forefront of the struggle against apartheid leading the largest trade union federation in South Africa.
Naidoo is currently a trustee of 'Earthrise Trust' and working closely with the communities in Rustler's Valley Farm in the Free State.
Jay Naidoo in on the Board of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation established to promote African development through a focus on promoting good governance. He serves in an advisory capacity for a number of international organizations including the Broadband Commission of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Lead Committee of the UNSG on Nutrition. He is the Patron of ‘Scatterlings of Africa’ a paleontological foundation linking archaeological sites across Africa.
Naidoo was Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Partnership Council of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) headquartered in Geneva and launched at the 2002 UN Summit on Children as a public private partnership to tackle malnutrition facing 2 billion people in the world. He is the founder of the social development arm of an investment and management company, J&J Group, which he co-founded in 2000 in South Africa.
From 2001 to 2010, he was Chairperson of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), the premier development finance institution driving infrastructure in the SADC region. From 2003 to 2010 he served as deputy chair and trustee of ‘Lovelife’, a nongovernmental organisation leading the fight to prevent HIV/AID through education and mobilization.
For his accomplishments he has gained many honors, including becoming the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Legion of Honour), one of France’s highest decorations, and received the ‘Drivers for Change Award’ from the Southern African Trust and Mail & Guardian newspaper in October 2010.
His most recent awards include the Kuzwayo Award from the University of Johannesburg, in November 2012, as well as an Honorary Doctorate Technology Degree in Engineering and the Built Environment from the Durban University of Technology, awarded September 2013.
Born in 1954, Naidoo enrolled at the University of Durban-Westville to study for a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in pursuance of a medical career in 1975 to be a medical doctor but his studies were interrupted by the political turmoil at the time because of student uprisings. He became active in SASO the South African Students Organisation that was banned in 1977 just after its leader Steve Biko was murdered in police detention. He then became a community-based organizer working with grassroots civic structures. He joined the Federation of South African Trade Unions as a volunteer in 1979. Naidoo was later appointed Secretary General of the Sweet, Food and Allied Workers' Union (SFAWU).
Jay Naidoo is married to Lucie Pagé, an award-winning French-Canadian writer and journalist, and regards his three children as his greatest achievement.