Motsoko Pheko was born on 13 November 1933 to a wealthy rural family in Lesotho. In the late 1930s, after the sudden death of their parents, Pheko and his brother came to South Africa to live with their aunt, E.M. Moerane.
In 1960, Pheko became a member of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). Due to his anti-apartheid activities, Pheko was imprisoned in South Africa. After his release he left the country and went into exile where he remained for 30 years. He was later imprisoned in Mozambique and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Pheko served the party in different capacities such as Organiser, branch Chairperson, country representative and Member of Parliament (MP). He was a party representative to the United Nations in New York and the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. In addition to being a representative to the UN, Pheko worked in the United Kingdom, Zambia and Tanzania.
Pheko holds a B.A. degree from UNISA with majors in Political Science and Systematic Theology and minors in Sociology and History; a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Zambia, a Master of Law in International Law from the University of London and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the University of Kensington. In 1964 Pheko co-founded Daystar Publications with an American missionary couple, Donald and Faye Smith in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
In 1967 Pheko moved Daystar Publications to Zambia while the Smiths launched Daystar Communications in Zimbabwe. The civil war that erupted in Zimbabwe in 1974 prompted the re-location of Daystar Communications to Niarobi, Kenya where the company had been incorporated as a non-profit organisation in 1973. Daystar grew and in 1992 Daystar University College (today Daystar University) took in its first students. Pheko also founded, and is the Chair, of the Tokoloho (Sotho word meaning freedom) Development Association which is based in South Africa. It is a trust that promotes and publishes research into indigenous knowledge of Africans prior to colonisation.
Pheko is an Advocate to the Supreme Court in Zambia and South Africa. From 1995 until 2003 Pheko served as the Deputy President in three PAC cabinets. In 2003 he was elected President of the PAC and subsequently became the party’s only representative in Parliament. While in parliament, he served on several Parliamentary Portfolio Committees including Foreign Affairs, Safety and Security, Justice and Constitutional Development and Culture Arts Science and Technology.
In 2007 Pheko was fired from the PAC for allegedly failing to account for funds in the Robert Sobukwe Fund. He successfully challenged his expulsion in the Cape High Court but was eventually expelled in 2008. His seat in Parliament was taken by Letlapa Mphahlele, who replaced him as PAC President at the Party’s conference in Qwa Qwa in 2006.
During the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg from 26 August - 4 September 2002, Pheko presented a paper entitled Can There Be Sustainable Development Without Land Repossession By The Indigenous People? UNISA has recently honoured Pheko with an archive that holds many of his own works.
Pheko is the author of several books on history, law, political science and theology such as:
- African Renaissance Saved Christianity
- Who Are The Africans? - Indigenous Names and Identity
- African religion re-discovered (1965)
- Christianity through African eyes (1969)
- My ups and downs: a black Christian in Southern Africa (1976)
- The Early Church in Africa (1982)
- Apartheid: The Story of the Dispossessed people(1984)
- South Africa: betrayal of a colonised people: issues of international human rights law (1990)
- Betrayal of a Colonised People (1990)
- The Land Is Ours: The Political Legacy of Mangaliso Sobukwe (1994)
- Land is money and Power (1998)
- The True History of Sharpeville Must Be Told (2001)
- How Africans can regain their lost power (2001)
- The History of Robben Island Must Be Preserved: Robben Island Prisoners Speak (2002)
- Hidden Side of South African Politics (2009)
- How the Freedom Charter Betrayed the Dispossessed (2012)
West Cape News, 2012. “PAC’s member of Parliament fighting to keep position” from West Cape News [online], Available at https://westcapenews.com [Accessed 2 April 2012]|WorldCat, 2010. ‘Pheko, S.E.M.” from WorldCat Identities [online]. Available at https://worldcat.org [Accessed 3 April 2012]|PAC, 2008. ‘Profile of Dr Motsoko Pheko’ from Pan Africanist Congress of Azania [online] Available at www.pac.org.za [Accessed 2 April 2012]|Ngalwa, S, (2008), PAC fires Pheko at congress, from Independent online, 7 July, [online] Available at www.iol.co.za[Accessed 3 April 2012]|SABC News, 2007, “Pheko expelled from PAC” from SABC News [online]. Available at www.sabcnews.com [Accessed 3 April 2012]|KenyaPages, 2007. ”Daystar University” from KenyaPages.com [online]. Available from www.kenyapages.com [Accessed 3 April 2012]