Address by the Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,
at the Memorial Service of the late Minister of Public Works, Stella Nomzamo Sigcau,
Pretoria, 12 May 2006
We are gathered here to pay tribute and say Ndlelanhle
to a great daughter of Africa.
U Mafaku, u Nyawuza ka Dakile, u Thahle
ka Ndayeni, Ohlamba ngobende abanye behlamba ngamanzi, u Mbingwa, u Matshobendlovu!
Inkosazana died on the 7th of May 2006 at St.
Augustine Hospital in Durban. Born a princess to the Royal House of AmaMpondo
hence the title Inkosazana as she was known and referred to by many who loved
her deeply and respected her, the place she occupied as a Royal who knew role
She was the eldest daughter of late King Botha Manzolwandle
Sigcau and Gertrude Sigcau. She became a leader from a young age when it was much
harder for women to lead, especially in an environment where the role of women
was narrowly defined by politics of that time.
As a young woman she spent
a lot of time in KwaZulu-Natal where she matriculated and later taught in the
60's, having graduated from Fort Hare. She married her late husband Ronald Tshabalala
from KwaZulu-Natal and they were blessed with three (3) children Nombulelo, Leslie
and the late Sibusiso.
Nkosazana Stella combined, in a very interesting
manner tradition and leadership in a modern sense within a democratic dispensation.
She did a lot in her gentle but determined way to educate and sensitize those
of us who worked with her, and around her, about matters of tradition and humanness.
As Minister of Public Works and a committed development activist she pioneered
many collaborative initiatives between traditional authorities and government
in pursuance of the course of social and economic advancement of the people of
Sis Stella was a down to earth, humbly person, and very approachable
with her gentle and tired smile and her informal manner that put one at ease when
dealing with her.
She was bridge builder on a number of fronts, but also
Her passion for development and education lead her to go out
of her way to open the doors of learning and culture starting from her days in
the Transkei and her involvement at national government level.
She was mother
not only to her children but to many, young and old. She had concerns and gave
support to friends, colleaques and strangers challenged in their public and private
Umstandi - as we fondly called her - meaning the landlord as the nation's
landlord in her capacity as Minister of Public Work, will be solely missed not
only by her colleagues in Cabinet by comrades in the African National Congress
(ANC). She was a National Executive Committee member since 1994 and one of the
longest serving ministers in our democratic dispensation.
SOME OF HER
As leader in government from the Transkei government
to a democratic dispensation. First as Public Enterprises Minister appointed by
the then President Mandela and Minister for Public Works since 1999. In both portfolios
her focus was on Uplifting and Empowerment of black people and paid a focus on
She believed in their struggle and capacity to succeed and she provided
opportunities. She was the first minister who appointed most senior black managers
and CEO's of State Owned Enterprises after 1994. She was the first minister to
give meaningful and substantive contracts to black people.
Many black women
executives today credit her with having given them a break and start in life into
the first Economy.
In a tribute to her people such as Sindy Mabaso, Sindi
Zilwa, Tshidi Mosibudi thanked her for her role in enhancing their professional
development as Chartered Accountants. Many women who are technical leaders in
Eskom came out of programme she put in place to train 40 women at post-graduate
level to become Technology Managers. All of them had science background but were
stuck at lower to middle levels. She helped them break the glass ceiling.
pioneering work in the empowerment of the country's black professionals is unquestionable.
She got young black audit firms to come together and tackle part of Transnet audit.
That was ground breaking since Transnet had always used the well established accounting
firms. These are some of the words I remember from her reflection of later years
of her life:
"As a rural woman, I was bestowed the honour by Madiba
to lead these complex institutions. I got to Eskom ndabona umbane, ngafika e Denel
ndathuswa yimipu, ndafika e Transnet ndaqhuba uloliwe."
In her work
at Public Works she focused on challenges of rural development, poverty and the
Second Economy. She completed the construction and property charters which she
drove with passion even when she was very sick.
She embraced the training
of women in ASGI-SA with both hands and we have poised to do great things with
her in that field and we will not let you down Nkosazana.
Few among us can
achieve so much in life and yet remain so humble. Few among us who desire to succeed
realise that we owe it to ourselves to work harder and collaborate with others
to achieve the success we desire. Umstandi did that! She understood the challenge
given to her to lead the Public Works Department and she took on that challenge.
She knew that being humble, focusing on the mandate and collaborating with other
colleagues and stakeholders was in fact a recipe for success.
Issued by the Presidency
12 May 2006