VIEWS: 46 PAGES: 6 CATEGORY: Childrens Literature POSTED ON: 12/5/2009
SPEECH BY MS BP SONJICA, MP, MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY ON
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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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. 6
"SPEECH BY MS BP SONJICA, MP, MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY ON"