President Cyril Ramaphosa has hailed Dr Frene Ginwala’s contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle, forging South Africa’s first democratic parliament and her fight for gender equality.
The President was delivering the eulogy at the official memorial service of Ginwala held at the Johannesburg City hall on Tuesday.
Ginwala passed away on January 12 at the age of 90 at her home after she had suffered a stroke two weeks earlier.
The President said Ginwala brought her “legal training, her sharp and incisive mind and her political conviction” to the table when it was time to forge South Africa’s new constitutional order and gave recognition to her as a “pioneer in building our democracy from the ruins of Apartheid”.
“Yet it was in her role as the first Speaker of a democratically elected National Assembly that she had the greatest and most enduring impact on our young democracy. Over the course of a decade in that position, she forged a new institution that reflected the great diversity, the struggles, the aspirations, the culture and the practices of the people of South Africa.
“With her calm and deliberate determination she forged an institution that stands at the centre of our democracy. It is an institution that continues to this day to fulfil its Constitutional purpose as the representative, the voice, the champion and the instrument of the people of our country,” he said.
Turning to Ginwala’s contribution in the fight against Apartheid and oppression, President Ramaphosa said Ginwala took every opportunity to speak out for the democratic movement.
“On whatever platform, given whatever opportunity, Comrade Frene Ginwala was an eloquent, persuasive champion of the cause of the South African people.
“With her keen intellect, her measured delivery and her clear articulation of the principles and the purpose of our struggle, she felled many a critic and earned many a friend.
“Through her writings, whether as a journalist, as a researcher or an academic or an activist, she provided both incisive critiques and clear vision. She told us what was wrong with the world and, most importantly, how it could be made better,” he said.
The President also highlighted Ginwala’s fight for the equal rights of women, both within the anti-apartheid movement and internationally.
“At a time when scant attention was given to the many ways in which women were oppressed and exploited, Comrade Frene fought for the struggles of women to be recognised.
“In a political environment in which the dominance of men didn’t even invite comment, Frene Ginwala was one of the few voices that was always consistent and insistent that women should occupy their rightful position in the struggle.
“As Comrade Frene would remind us, until we have achieved equality between men and women in all spheres of life, we will not be free,” he said.
The President shared the country’s condolences to Ginwala’s family.
“To her family, especially her beloved nephews Zav, Cyrus and Sohrab, we share in your sorrow. May you be comforted by the knowledge that Comrade Frene’s spirit, her courage, her wisdom and her generosity will forever be remembered.
“Comrade Frene, go well. Hamba kahle Mbokodo. If we ever had a Mbokodo, you are the Mbokodo that we really had. Lala kahle Madam Speaker,” the President said.
Source: South African Government News Agency