Dr. Theuns Eloff is a South African theologian, entrepreneur, diplomat and academic leader, who played a key part in the transformation of South Africa from an apartheid state to a modern democracy. He obtained bachelors degrees in law and theology and served as SRC president for three years and as president of the national body of Afrikaans students in the 70‘s during which time the black student leader Steve Biko was murdered, which aroused the opposition of many young Afrikaners. Dr. Eloff was a co‐drafter of the well‐known Koinonia Declaration and a founder member of the non‐racial political student organisation POLSTU.
In 1987 he was part of the famous Dakar Safari, the secret but now famous meeting which took place in Senegal between leading Afrikaans opinion leaders and the exiled leaders of the ANC. Three years after the Senegal mission, Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, and the ANC unbanned. Under the chairmanship of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, attempts were made to create an Accord. Dr. Eloff joined the Consultative Business Movement (CBM), where he was appointed as Executive Director 1990. He helped plan and facilitate the National Peace Convention, which lead to the signing of the National Peace Accord in September 1991. He headed the Process and Secretarial Services in Codesa and headed the Administration of the Multi‐Party Negotiating Process after Codesa.
Until May 1994, Dr. Eloff was Deputy Executive Director of the Transitional Executive Council (TEC).
He received a number of awards in recognition of his role in the negotiations process:
The Junior Chamber of South Africa’s award as one of Four Outstanding Young South Africans, the Harvard Business Club Statesmen of the Year Award, the Junior Chamber International’s “Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World” award, the World Economic Forum’s honour as one of “100 Global Leaders for Tomorrow".
In February 1995 Dr. Eloff was appointed as Chief Executive of the National Business Initiative (NBI), Under his leadership, the NBI made a significant contribution to the success of the new South Africa, amongst others by establishing and managing the R1bn Business Trust and Business Against Crime (BAC). He served on the Economic Advisory Council of the Northwest Province and served on the Boards of BAC and the Centre for Conflict Resolution. In January 2002, Dr. Eloff became Vice‐Chancellor of his Alma Mater. He established a new management philosophy and played a leading role in the merger of the Potchefstroom University with the University of North West. In May 2004 he was appointed as the first Vice‐Chancellor of the new North‐West University(NWU). Under his leadership, the NWU has accomplished one of the most successful, stable mergers in South Africa’s higher education sector and is on its way to establish itself among the top 6 universities in South Africa.
In 2005 Dr. Eloff was elected as Deputy Chairperson of Higher Education South Africa (HESA) and in 2007 as Chairperson for a term of two years. He was also elected as Deputy Chairperson of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, with its head office in London, and in 2009 he was elected as Chairperson. He is a director of Astral Foods and the FW de Klerk Foundation. In 2008 he received an Honorary Doctorate in Law from the London South Bank University. In 2009 he has been appointed as Vice‐president of the AHI.