ADDRESS BY GAUTENG MEC FOR FINANCE AND ECONOMIC AFFAIRS, PAUL MASHATILE, ON THE OCCASION OF THE 3RD ANNUAL PASSING THE TORCH AWARDS, 28 AUGUST 2008. Programme Director; MECs and Members of the Provincial Legislature; The HOD of the Department of Economic Development, Mr. Sibusiso Xaba; Heads of our Agencies present here today; Members of our Boards, present here today; Our partners, ABSA and Sterkinekor; Participants in this year’s and previous year’s Passing the Torch Awards; Members of the media; Ladies and Gentlemen: Allow me to convey our warmest greetings to all of you who have gathered here this evening for the third Annual Passing the Torch Awards. We thank you heartily for
taking time to join us on this important occasion, as we hounor and celebrate women’s excellence in business. Programme Director; in 1985, at the height of apartheid oppression, the then President of the African Nation Congress, Comrade Oliver Tambo made a pledge to the women of our country that; the ANC would not consider its objectives achieved, its task completed, or its struggle at an end, until the women of South Africa are fully liberated. This pledge, made more that 20 years ago, continues to guide our work as we advance towards the objective of transforming ours into a truly non-racial, democratic and non-sexist society. The pledge made by Oliver Tambo, reaffirmed the central role that women played in the struggle to liberate our country. It was made in recognition of the heroism displayed by the martyr generation of 1956 led by Lilian Ngoyi, Rahima Moosa, Sophie de Bruyn, Helen Joseph, Amina Cachalia
and many other heroines of our struggle who fought so selflessly to secure the freedom that we today enjoy. As we this year celebrate the 52nd Anniversary of the historic women’s march to the Union Buildings, we must be reminded of the pledge we made to the women of our country that; we will not consider our objectives achieved, our task completed, or our struggle at an end, until the women of our country are fully liberated. At the centre of our approach to deliver on this pledge is the need for us to strengthen our resolve to make Gauteng an even better place for women. All hands on deck, we must continue to create the necessary conditions for meaningful participation by women in the economic mainstream. Furthermore, our vision to build Gauteng as a Globally Competitive City Region must deliver visible benefits to women and in particular women owned enterprises.
This vision must also assist ongoing efforts to propel the women of our province into the economic mainstream, where side by side their male counterparts they will contribute to enhancing Gauteng’s global competitiveness. The Passing the Torch Awards give practical meaning to our overall commitment as the Gauteng Provincial Government, and in particular the Department of Economic Development, to make the Gauteng City Region an even better place for women, by encouraging women participation in the economic mainstream. These Awards are a fitting tribute to the achievements of women who have defied all odds and are contributing to the creation of a better life for all. From humble beginnings, many of those we are honouring this evening, are now running sustainable businesses and have created employment opportunities for others. Often with limited or no support, they refused to give up. Like true entrepreneurs they chose the hard and winding
road in the face of temptations to take the shorter and quicker route to success. They chose excellence over mediocrity. They took control of their destiny and created for themselves and for others a better life. Many of those we are honoring this evening have seized the opportunities created by our democracy. Like true role models, their achievements are a source of inspiration to other women. It is because of women of the caliber of those we are honouring this evening that we are confident we will deliver on the pledge we made that; our objectives will only be achieved, our task will only be complete, and our struggle will only be at an end, when the women of our country are fully liberated. This evening we have come to say to all of the participants; congratulations and well done! We are proud of what you have achieved!
We are here this evening to encourage you to continue being pioneers, to continue contributing to the growth and development of our economy and to continue making a difference in the lives of others in your communities. This you must do in the knowledge that as government we are fully behind you. As the Gauteng Provincial Government we have committed ourselves that we will ensure among others; that women occupy 50% of all senior management positions in government;
that 50% of funding for small, medium and micro enterprises will be used to support women owned companies; that 50% of our procurement budget is spent on women owned enterprises; that we will use our Expanded Public Works Programme to provide business development support to women; and
that we will open up skills development opportunities for women through learnerships and internships.
We are doing all of these things in order to ensure that the total liberation of the women of our country is achieved in our lifetime. Programme Director, we are encouraged that those we are honouring this evening will become torch bearers who will symbolically light the way for other women to follow in their footsteps. They will mentor and provide support to others women in business. This to us is a critical aspect of these Awards. Our experience has shown that mentorship and support is important in ensuring the success of businesses. By supporting and mentoring other women in business those we are honouring this evening will contribute to the objective of building a cadre of successful women entrepreneurs at all levels of business.
They will also assist efforts aimed at creating a platform for women in business to learn from each others experiences, to exchange ideas and in the process grow together. Also encouraging is that those we are honouring this evening will receive ongoing support from our agencies namely; the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller, the Gauteng Film Commission, the Gauteng Tourism Authority, the Gauteng Economic Development Agency, Blue IQ, the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and Dinokeng special projects. Already some of our agencies are engaged in a number of programmes aimed at assisting the previous winners of these Awards to grow their businesses and allow them to reach even greater heights. These programmes range from assistance with business plans and marketing activities to the provision of funding for expansion.
Going forward, it is our intention to create a database and maintain constant contact with all the women who participate in these Awards, whether they have won or not. This we will do in order to create a networking forum to allow participants in these Awards to learn from each others experiences and collectively to benefit from government initiatives aimed at supporting women in business. I wish to take to opportunity once more to congratulate all the finalists for this year’s Awards. A word of gratitude goes to the panel of judges who have worked hard over many hours to select the finalist and the winners. We also thank all those who nominated participants in this year’s Awards. To our partners ABSA and Ster-Kinekor, we say thank you for partnering with us in this important initiative. We look
forward to your continued involvement as we endeavour to grow this event. To the management and staff at DED, who have put this event together, we wish to say; let us work hard to ensure that this event grows from strength to strength and that it delivers visible results to the women of our province. This we must do taking into account the pledge we made that; our objectives will not be achieved, our task will not be complete and our struggle will not be at an end, until the women of South Africa, and in particular the women of Gauteng, are fully liberated. Thank you.