Derek Auret is a graduate of the University of Stellenbosch (Bachelor of Administration) and of the University of Pretoria (Hons in Political Science and International Politics). He spent two decades in the South African Foreign Service in 1972, holding various positions at home and abroad such as Special Envoy with the rank of ambassador to the United Nations, Deputy Director-General of foreign affairs in the Middle East, Chief Director: Americas, Middle and Far East and Australasia, when he negotiated formal relations between South Africa and a number of Asian countries including China. He was also involved in negotiations concerning the independence of Namibia and the then Rhodesia, establishing relations with a number of African and Middle Eastern countries and negotiated the peace initiative in Mozambique between FRELIMO and RENAMO. He then became chairman of the Western Cape Provincial Public Service Commission, Chairman of the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board Chief Executive of the Casino Association of South Africa (CASA) until his retirement in 2012 and has been chairman of the Friends of Orchestral Music in 2014.

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