Address by the Honourable Premier RM Mtshweni-Tsipane on the occasion of the Provincial Commemmoration of Women’s Day

09 August 2021

Programme Director
Members of the Executive Council Present;
The Executive Mayor of Nkangala District Municipality, Cllr Sarah Masilela;
Our host, the Executive Mayor of Steve Tshwete Local Municipality; Cllr Diphala Motsepe;
All Councillors Present;
The Chairperson of the Mpumalanga House of Traditional Leaders, Inkosi SG Ngomane;
Leadership of various political formations present;
The beautiful people of Mpumalanga Province;
Good Morning,

  1. Programme Director, it is a singular honour to join the multitude of people across the length and breadth of this beautiful Province of the rising sun as we commemorate the valiant women who stood up against the travesty of apartheid and many forms of prejudices.

  2. Today we pay homage to the 20 000 women who gathered in Pretoria on this day, 65 years ago armed with nothing other than a singleness of purpose and a moral duty to address the system of apartheid, which was declared crime against humanity by the United Nations.

  3. Little did they know that their unity in purpose would ignite a spark that would trigger a number of protest actions that rendered the apartheid regime ungovernable and untenable. That unity in purpose would eventually birth our constitutional dispensation and our rainbow nation.

  4. The actions of the valiant heroines on that fateful day in 1956 underpinned the central role of women in the socio-economic construct in our communities and across the nation. It was on that seminal day that all of us, regardless of race, gender or creed understood the significance behind the seminal phrase of “wathintha abafazi wathinta imbokodo”.

  5. Programme Director, we also have the unique honour to commemorate women’s day in the year dedicated to uMama Charlotte Maxeke. uMama Maxeke is a testament of the limitless potential inherent in all women.
  6. That she broke barriers imposed by patriarchy and became the first black woman to obtain an academic degree from the Wilberforce University in the United States of America in 1903 is evidence of what women can achieve through hard work, self-belief and courage. Hers is truly a legacy we must all strive to emulate.

  7. As we commemorate women’s day, we must also reflect on the challenges that we continue to encounter in our efforts to advancing gender parity, eliminating gender based violence and femicide and promoting the active participation of women in the mainstream Provincial economy.

  8. These challenges have been exacerbated by the unprecedented crisis that has been the Covid-19 pandemic.

  9. The Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Women

  10. Programme Director, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all communities across the Province. It has robbed families of breadwinners, and society of its leaders. The pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented shedding of jobs in every sector across the Province.

  11. Empirical data from Statistics South Africa and the recent quarterly labour force report indicate that women have been the most disproportionately affected cohort of the population.

  12. In essence, more women have lost jobs and streams of income than men since the advent of the pandemic last year.

  13. Furthermore, the restriction of movements necessitated by the nation’s risk adjusted strategy in combating the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an exponential increase in reported cases of gender based violence against women.

  14. Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

  15. In order to address the devastating impact the pandemic has had on women in the Province, the Provincial Government, through the Mpumalanga Economic Reconstruction and Recovery plan, will prioritise the development of women owned enterprises.

  16. This is supplemented by the recent decision by the ANC led government to extend the R350 Special COVID-19 grant for those who are unemployed. The social security net has been increased to protect vulnerable families, especially women and children from the economic impact of the pandemic.

  17. As a provincial government we are investing in job creation programmes, extending our expanded public works programme and assisting young women who may want to start their own small businesses.

  18. Achieving gender parity in the Provincial Government

  19. Programme Director, the composition of the Provincial Cabinet reflects the aspiration of women representation and advancement. To this end, the Provincial Cabinet is comprised of mostly women with 6 of them as Members of the Cabinet and 5 being males.

  20. Furthermore, we have committed ourselves to advance women composition at the Senior Management echelon of the Provincial Government.

  21. We will strive to replicate this statistic in the composition of Senior Managers in the Provincial Administration. Women currently constitute 38, 2% of Senior Managers in the Provincial Government. We are targeting a 50% female composition at the Senior Management level by the end of the term of this Administration.

  22. Economic Empowerment Programmes for women

  23. Programme Director, as I have indicated earlier, the COVID-19 pandemic has ripped our lives apart as a nation, with women being the hardest hit cohort of the population.

  24. Some are struggling financially due to collapsed businesses and loosing their jobs as a result of the pandemic. With no breadwinners, some of whom succumbed to the pandemic, they are left to pick up the pieces of fending for their families under extremely difficult conditions.

  25. In order to address this, the Provincial Government has taken a decision to place strategic emphasis on the development of female owned enterprises.

  26. This will be augmented by existing initiatives aimed at expediting the participation of women in the mainstream economy.

  27. These initiatives include the creation of 19 649 employment opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme. Of the 19 649 jobs created, a total of 12 254 or 62% of the beneficiaries are women.

  28. We have also taken cognisance of the impact COVID-19 has had on female players within the Provincial tourism sector.

  29. In an effort to fast-track the recovery of this industry whilst empowering women, we have augmented the efforts of the national sphere of government to assist women owned enterprises in the tourism sector through the Tourism Equity Fund. We have availed R20 million to help SMMEs in the tourism sector with a specific focus on women owned enterprises.

  30. In a few weeks, I will be returning to the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality to oversee the sod turning ceremony for the R350 million four star hotel that shall be constructed in Middelburg. We have engaged the developers to consider ring fencing a percentage of their procurement for the benefit of women owned enterprises within Nkangala District.

  31. Agrarian economic participation

  32. Through the Fortune 40 provincial programme, we have capacitated 97 women who are currently operating their own farms and participating within the Agricultural value chain in the Province.

  33. We are currently facilitating the incorporation of an additional 144 young women in the programme and ensuring that they are provided with the requisite support to operate sustainable farming enterprises before the end of the current financial year.

  34. We are also implementing the Zonda Insila programme, through which we aim to eliminate poverty and create jobs whilst promoting a clean environment.

  35. Women currently constitute 80% of enrolments within this programme. They are being trained to recycle optimally, establish nursery projects, tree planting projects and overall clean-up projects around their communities. The ultimate goal is to position women to establish waste recycling facilities and play a significant role in the waste economy of the Province.

  36. Through the Phezukomkhono Mlimi plant production programme, we have assisted over 2800 women across the province to plough and plant food in their backyards and surrounding arable land for sustenance and commercial farming.

  37. This programme has produced renowned entrepreneurs such as Ms Esther Mhlongo who is now a global producer of Macademia Nuts as well as Ms Julia Shungube who produces various stands of castor oil and has been recognised in the global entrepreneurship awards.

  38. Programme Director, the initiatives that I have outlined above are augmented by a concerted effort to ensure that procurement in key catalytic projects such as the Nkomazi Special Economic Zone and the Mpumalanga Fresh Produce Market is geared towards capable women owned and managed enterprises.

  39. We will also ring-fence 40% of government expenditure in programmes such as government school nutrition, sanitary towel distribution, creative arts, stationery and office furniture towards female owned enterprises.

  40. Gender based violence and femicide

  41. Programme Director, as we grapple with COVID-19 and its devastating effects, we dare not forget that we are faced with another pandemic, the gender based violence. It was declared by the President, Hon. Cyril Ramaphosa as a national crisis.

  42. As I have alluded earlier, gender based violence is one of the societal ills that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  43. We have noted with concern the rising figures of gender based violence cases in the past year, with Emalahleni, Mbalenhle, Pienaar, Vosman and Kabokweni, recording the highest reported cases.

  44. Gender based violence not only robs us of our mothers, sisters and daughters, it also erodes the moral fibre of our communities.

  45. We can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to the cries for help from the most vulnerable in our midst. We all have a moral and legal duty to report all cases of assault, abuse and harassment.

  46. The role of Community Policing Forums (CPFs) is central to eradicating this scourge in our society. We must intensify a strong collaboration between the CPFs and community based organizations, seized with the task of mobilizing communities through anti GBV campaigns.

  47. We will also introduce anti-GBV workshops in schools in order to inculcate behavioural change of young boys at the school-going age.

  48. As we commemorate this Women’s month, we must use this as an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come in transforming society, particularly the transformation of unequal power relations between men and women.

  49. Our focus should be on creating a conducive environment for women to take control of their lives.

  50. Conclusion

  51. Programme Director, we are heading towards overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. We have significantly ramped the number of COVID-19 vaccination centres across the Province. I urge the people of Mpumalanga to take the jab.

  52. The process start from registration on the Electronic Vaccination Data System. Once you have registered, do not wait for the SMS confirmation to vaccinate. If you are in an age group qualifying for vaccination, simply head to a vaccination site to get your jab.

  53. In this way, we will achieve the herd immunity that we are aspiring to, in an effort to reclaim our normal lives.

  54. The heroines of 1956 as well as luminaries such as uMama Charlotte Maxeke, uMama Winnie Madikizela Mandela, uMama Albertina Sisulu, Sophie de Bryn and Lillian Ngoyi, in whose footsteps we follow, have proven that women have a crucial role to play in our society.

  55. Let our generation be defined as a generation that attained gender parity in our lifetime.

  56. Let us do justice to the heroines of 1956 and eliminated barriers that seek to disenfranchise women.

  57. I wish you all, a beautiful and revolutionary women’s day.

  58. I thank you.

^ Back to Top