Higher Education Minister, Ms Naledi Pandor, pays tribute to the late Minister, Dr Edna Molewa
3 October 2018
Salutations- I wish to thank our government for granting me the privilege to honour this wonderful devoted patriot of South Africa.
On behalf of all my colleagues in government ,our organisation the ANC my own family and the broader public, I wish to express our deepest sympathy to the family, staff and friends of Minister Molewa I know she will be missed and we will always remember her fondly. It is trite to say none of us imagined we would be in this place for such an occasion when we were with the minister in China just three weeks ago. Losses such as this one are beyond comprehension and beyond questioning.
We have lost a warrior woman of the people in the prime of her life. During the state visit to China and at FOCACCIA comrade Edna was jovial elegant engaged and happy, talking to each one of us in the delegation and taking lots of photos.
As we imagine how to celebrate her our thoughts must surely turn to our yearlong commemoration of our two great leaders, Mama Sisulu and Mr Mandela. These were South African leaders, African leaders and global pacesetters.
Mrs Albertina Sisulu was a woman of indomitable will, courageous, bold, nurturing, consistent, and determined when tough action was called for. She is also remembered as warm and loving and as able to outline a strategic roadmap for any task of struggle. Ethical, frank and u afraid to express her viewpoints.
We also celebrate Mr Nelson Mandela our great icon a man of the people always looking to the greater good, unlimited by circumstances, refusing to allow a decline in values and principles even in the face of the most extreme provocation and repression.
The contribution and life of comrade Edna Molewa mirrors the worthy attributes of these remarkable leaders. Let me turn to comrade Edna more fully and how she practically projected these characteristics in in her political and parliamentary career.
You have been learning about Minister Molewa in the past few days, a mother a teacher, a freedom fighter, an environment activist of note.
She served in many capacities in all the twenty four years of our democracy. Premier of North West 2004-2009, Social development Minister 2009-2010, water and environment 2010-2014 and her greatest love, minister of environment 2014 until her passing.
In July this year she received an esteemed honor from France, the high honor of Officier de Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur( Officer in the French Legion) one of that country's to honours. She joined distinguished recipients such as Nelson Mandela, Ahmed Kathrada, Kader Asmal, Archbishop Desmond Tutu,and Nadine Gordimer.
Comrade Edna leaves us at a time when our organisation is re asserting its revolutionary principles. She would most certainly played a keen role in re asserting the true values and ethos of the ANC as she always devoted herself to achieving positive outcomes for South Africa for the ANC and for her departments cause of environmental sustainability I remember her from serving as a whip in 1994. She was chair of the portfolio committee on trade trade and industry and we would chat in the back rows of the assembly. She told me she was a former unionist in the catering and allied workers sector. It's only later that I discovered she was the unions’ deputy president before coming to serve in parliament. As a whip I can confirm she was a hardworking dedicated MP who prepared well and led her committee very well. I was quite distressed when she was deployed to North West as an MEC because we enjoyed conversing in Setswana and would have riveting discussions about Bo Tholo and Bangwato.
Some of you present here today may remember our negotiations for a new Constitution, and particularly the formulations of a bill of rights. You will recall that the Ready to Govern document of the ANC was one of the most modern forward looking policy documents of the then New Democratic era. It set South Africa on a new path of human civil and political rights. The inclusion of second generation socio economic rights in the Constitution resulted primarily from that document and other ANC submissions. The real innovation of the ANC however was insistence on the emerging third generation rights of environment shelter and water.
These rights shaped comrade Edna's principal executive career, but it was as minister of water and environment and then fully environment that this national treasure of ours began to bloom. She had found her full passion sustainability, responsiveness to climate change, protection of the oceans, a world intact for our great grandchildren that is what drove this minister that is where her immense energy intellect and resolve really showed. I will never forget her serious determination to ensure Durban 2011 would not be a jamboree, the climate change outcomes must have substance she insisted and she worked tirelessly for that and succeeded. A passion one sees rarely in politics. I recall one night at the climate change conference I was hanging outside the deep negotiations venue and she came out for a minute I think it was eleven thirty pm when will you finish( Le Tla hetsa leng ? ) I asked her , when we've got a proper resolution she replied and went back in.
Achieving what she has on environmental sustainability was no small feat, building an Agulhus two, overseeing the oceans economy implementation and protecting our fauna and flora against all odds are all her lasting excellent contributions to our nation. She has done great service for all of us and for generations to come, she infused her commitment into colleagues on the continent ensured it lived in the United Nations and in this way became herself a woman of the world a woman of humanity Rest in peace dear friend, dear sister, dear colleague.