Wilmot James

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Wilmot James
Dr Wilmot James MP.JPG
Shadow Minister of Health
Assumed office
Leader Helen Zille
Preceded by Patricia Kopane
Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry
In office
Preceded by Tim Harris
Succeeded by Geordin Hill-Lewis
Shadow Minister of Higher Education
Preceded by George Boinamo
Member of Parliament
for Western Cape
Assumed office
May 2009
Personal details
Born (1953-07-05) 5 July 1953 (age 62)
Paarl, Cape Province, Union of South Africa
Nationality South African
Political party Democratic Alliance
Spouse(s) Delecia Forbes
Children Gabriele James, Isabella James
Alma mater University of the Western Cape, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Yale University
Profession Sociologist

Professor Wilmot Godfrey James MP (born 5 July 1953) is a noted South African academic-turned-politician, who serves as the country's Shadow Minister of Health and as a Member of Parliament and Federal Chairperson for the opposition Democratic Alliance.[1] He has served as director of Sanlam, Media24 and the Africa Genome Education Institute, and is the chairperson of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Immigration Advisory Board of South Africa. He lost the Democratic Alliance leadership election to Mmusi Maimane. He is also a former Trustee of the Ford Foundation of New York.

Early years[edit]

Wilmot James was born in Paarl on 5 July 1953, to Peter Charles James and Shelma Rumine Hartel. He attended Athlone High School, and matriculated in 1970.[2]

University and academia[edit]

James graduated from the University of the Western Cape in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts Honours cum laude. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the United States, and attained his MSc from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1978, and a PhD from the same institution in 1982. In 1985 he did a post doctoral fellowship at Yale University. He was a visiting fellow at Indiana University Bloomington in 1990, and a visiting fellow at the American Bar Foundation in Chicago in 1992.

In 1993 he moved to Cape Town to become Professor of Sociology at the University of Cape Town. He became Executive Director of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa in 1994, and served at Idasa until 1998. In 1999 he was appointed Dean of Humanities at the University of Cape Town.

James was appointed an Executive Director at the Human Sciences Research Council in 2001, a position he held until 2004.

In 2003 he was Moore Distinguished Visiting Professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.

In 2005 James was appointed Director of the Africa Genome Education Institute.

Other positions[edit]

In 2001, James was appointed Associate Editor at the Cape Argus newspaper, but left the paper later that year. In 2004 he became a Director at Naspers's Media24.

James served as a trustee of the Ford Foundation of New York between 1996 and 2009.


In 2009 James became a Member of Parliament with the Democratic Alliance, South Africa's opposition party. He was appointed Shadow Minister of Higher Education, and later moved to the Basic Education portfolio. In 2010 he was elected federal chairperson of the party unopposed. As of November 2012 he serves as Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry for his party.[3]


  1. ^ "National List MPs" (PDF). 
  2. ^ "Prof Wilmot James". 
  3. ^ "Dr Wilmot James". South Africa: Democratic Alliance. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 

Offices held[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
George Boinamo
South African Shadow Minister of Higher Education