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 YamaMpondo.

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 in society.

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 our country.

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 a fighter.

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 life.

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 KEY ACHIEVEMENTS

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 women.

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.

Her 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.

Hamba kahle Manyawuza Mafaku

Issued by the Presidency
12 May 2006



 

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