Nelson Mandela. Regarded education as a key element in South Africa's transition from the social divisions and racial resentment of apartheid to black majority rule. Later he was criticised in some quarters for being too conciliatory to the white population. He risked black anger by calling for firm action against black students angry at sanctions against university fee defaulters.
Thabo Mbeki. A former Sussex University student - he took a masters in economics in 1966 - Mbeki played a prominent role in building the youth and student sections of the African National Congress in exile. He became Mandela's deputy and president-elect after the 1994 elections. Has been the de facto president of South Africa as Mandela increasingly became a figurehead
Sibusiso Bengu. Stood down as education minister at the election. A former vice-Chancellor of the University of Fort Hare, he was central to the efforts over the past five years to devise new policies and structures. Largely unappreciated by staff and students in underfunded schools and universities as an author of progressive policies which were largely no implemented because of economic problems.