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SPEECH BY MS BP SONJICA, MP, MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY ON

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					 SPEECH BY MS BP SONJICA, MP, MINISTER OF

 MINERALS AND ENERGY ON THE OCCASION OF

THE ANC WOMEN’S LEAGUE FUND RAISING GALA

          DINNER IN POLOKWANE

             ON 8 MARCH 2008




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Programme Director
Distinguished Guests
Comrades
Ladies and Gentlemen

Wathint’ abafazi! Wath’ intimbokodo! Malibongwe! Igama labafazi!
Comrade Chairperson, it gives me a great pleasure to take this
podium on the momentous occasion of the gala dinner hosted by
the Limpopo Women’s League of the African National Congress in
Polokwane. I am not only excited to be here but feel honoured by
the invitation to address this august assembly of women at the
forefront of advancing women’s freedom and empowerment.


It is most befitting on this occasion to draw from and echo the
message delivered 18 years ago by the revered African National
Congress President, Comrade O.R.Tambo at the Rally to
Relaunch the A.N.C. Women’s League in Durban on 9 August
1990. Comrade Tambo said “In 1985, I and President Sam
Nujoma made a joint pledge to the women of Namibia and South
Africa, that we would not consider our objective achieved, our task
completed or our struggle at an end until the women of South
Africa and Namibia are fully liberated”.


Comrade     O.R.Tambo’s     formidable intellect   and leadership
articulated the plight of women eloquently when he said, “One of
the fundamental tasks that the process of national liberation
confronts, is the liberation of the women of our country from their
triple oppression on the grounds of sex, class and colour.” His
profound analysis made in his Call to the People of the World on



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1 November 1983 is refreshingly relevant and remarkably spot-on
today.


Women have never been spectators in the struggle for their
emancipation as well as freedom in South Africa. Limpopo
produced no less an icon and heroine of our struggle other than
Charlotte Makgomo Maxeke, a founder and driving force behind
the establishment of the Bantu Women’s League of the South
African Native National Congress in 1923, the forerunner to the
ANC’s women League. She earned the accolade of “Mother of
Black Freedom in South Africa” in the furnace of struggle. She
bequeathed us with a rich heritage of struggle that combined
actions with reflections and theory with practice.


Women proved themselves as a formidable and fearless
component of our liberation throughout the ages and during
various phases of our struggle for freedom. Besides nurturing the
young and mothering the nation, they took their positions in the
trenches without flinching.


Empowerment and affirmation of women has emerged as a
defining feature of our democracy as evidenced by the visible
number of women entrusted with positions of leadership in the
public sector. Our democratic government since 1994 under the
leadership of Presidents Mandela and Mbeki has brought
advances of many kinds for the women of our beloved country in
all stations of life, including in the leadership of the nation.
Our various provinces and local government have taken this cue
with distinction. Sadly, the same does not apply to the private


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sector, more especially in the corporate world, where lip service
and intransigence rules the day.


It is worth mentioning that our democratic dispensation is a product
of a struggle in which women were active participants. The
realisation of our objective of a non-racial, non-sexist, free and
democratic South Africa is dependent on the extent to which,
amongst others, it addresses the social needs of women. Black
women in particular had been languishing in the bottom rung of the
social ladder for over three centuries of oppression and
exploitation. As women, we inevitably and invariably bore the brunt
of neglect and service delivery backlogs.


Women as pillars of families, communities and the nation have to
take their rightful position in agitating for access to education,
housing, water and sanitation, health care, transport, land, jobs,
social grants and other social services. Eradicating the legacy of
discrimination, inequality, service backlogs and fighting poverty
requires the contributions that women can make to the national
effort for faster and shared growth and development. The
Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative in South Africa (ASGISA)
has highlighted the concerns of women with regard to their
economic prospects and the potential for women to help halve
poverty and unemployment by 2014.


In paying tribute to the heroism of Comrade Maxeke and many
unsung heroines of our struggle, we need to pledge to fight against
poverty and underdevelopment and any form of abuse of women
in particular. The struggle must be taken forward to consolidate on


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the gains attained thus far in championing the cause of women.
Women have to take a leaf out of the book of the first ever African
female national leader, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Her ascendancy to the pinnacle of political power should serve as
a lesson and an inspiration that women are equally capable of
occupying any office when given an opportunity. Moreover, it is
high time that we should exercise our latent muscles in all aspects
of life that that have a bearing on our conditions and lives.


We need to build on the firm foundation created by our progressive
policies and accelerate not only the transformation of the energy
and minerals sectors but also fast track the participation of women
in the mainstream of all sectors of our economy. We still have a
challenge to realize the Freedom Charter’s injunction that, “the
people shall share in the country’s wealth”.


Our freedom is diminished as long as women remain outside the
mainstream of our economy. Our democracy is incomplete as long
as women are subjugated to the periphery and are not on an equal
footing in our social and cultural spheres of life. Our human rights
are violated as long as women are reduced to second class
citizenship subject to domestic violence and abuse. The Women’s
League as the vanguard of women emancipation in our country
has to extend its reach to all sectors of our society including
government departments.




The DME facilitated the formation of the South African Women in
Mining Association (SAWIMA) in 1999 to serve as a platform for


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women empowerment. Over the years, SAWIMA has grown in
leaps and bounds despite the teething challenges that confront
any growing organisation. There is no doubt that SAWIMA is a
brand to be reckoned with. We were instrumental in the formation
of the Women in Oil and Energy South Africa (WOESA). As a
department, we are committed to continue and strengthen our
strategic partnership with them. These organisations that strive to
champion the participation of women in the energy and mining
sectors have since grown from strength to strength.


Finally, let us remember that three months ago, the new leadership
of the ANC was elected in this very province.         It is therefore
absolutely critical for us to remember the role that women have in
ensuring the success not just of the ANC but also of the
government and the country that we love.       Let us continue to
uphold the principles enshrined in the Freedom Charter and
strengthened our Constitution.


I thank you.




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