Political Icons from Bela-Bela Township

Honourable Bomo Edith Edna Molewa was born in 1957 in Bela-Bela. She was appointed as a Buyer at Metro Cash & Carry (1982-1984). She became the secretary of the Congress of South Africa Trade Union Bela-Bela Branch (1986-1986). She was appointed as the Buyer at Shoprite Checkers Bela-Bela  (1987-1994).

She became the deputy president of South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (1987-1993). She became the member of parliament for the African National Congress National Assembly Government Public Administration and Defence.

She serves as the chairperson of African National Congress Women’s league in North West South Africa and has been a member of the Provincial Executive Committee since 1996. She became a member of National Executive Council Women’s league. She is the former Minister of Social Development and the current cabinet Minister of Environmental Affairs.

Minister Edna Molewa

The Honourable Pinky Kekana was born in Bela-Bela. She is a member of the African National Congress. She became the 10th candidate at the African National Congress Regional Limpopo Election list (22 April 2014 until 7th May 2014).

She became the member-elect at National Assembly Parliament from 16 May 2014 until 21st May 2014. She was the constituency contact at the African National Congress Constituency Office at Sefako Mapogo Makgatho (Lepelle Nkumpi) from 21 May 2014 until December 2014.

She became the Member of the Executive Council for Economic Development Environment and Tourism of the Limpopo Provincial Government. She has been a member at the National Assembly since 21 May 2014. She is the constituency contact at the African National Congress Constituency Office in Northam. She is a member at the Standing Committee on the filling of vacancies in the Commission for Gender Equality (Ad Hoc Committees) since 16 November 2016. She is the current Deputy Minister for Communications.

Dep. Minister Pinkie Kekana

Honourable Lucas Nhlapo was born in Bela Bela. He served in the Executive of South African Local Government Association and its working groups. He has held various positions in different structures such as the African National Congress, African National Congress Youth League, South African Communist Party, and South African Municipal Workers Union including being a treasurer, secretary and chief whip.

He also served as the Bela-Bela Municipal Mayor. He is currently the Vice President of the South African Football Association (SAFA).

Honourable Lucas Nhlapo

Political icons whose names continue to live In Bela-Bela Township

President Nelson Mandela

President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist, who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalised racism and fostering racial reconciliation. Ideologically an African nationalist and socialist, he served as President of the African National Congress (ANC) party from 1991 to 1997.

A Xhosa, Mandela was born in Mvezo to the Thembu royal family. He studied law at the University of Fort Hare and the University of the Witwatersrand before working as a lawyer in Johannesburg. There he became involved in anti-colonial land African nationalist politics, joining the ANC in 1943 and co-founding its Youth League in 1944. After the National Party’s white-only government established apartheid—a system of racial segregation that privileged whites—he and the ANC committed themselves to its overthrow. Mandela was appointed President of the ANC’s Transvaal branch, rising to prominence for his involvement in the 1952 Defiance Campaign and the 1955 Congress of the People. He was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the 1956 Treason Trial. Influenced by Marxism, he secretly joined the banned South African Communist Party (SACP). Although initially committed to non-violent protest, in association with the SACP he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1961 and led a sabotage campaign against the government. In 1962, he was arrested for conspiring to overthrow the state and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.

Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. Amid growing domestic and international pressure, and with fears of a racial civil war, President F. W. de Klerk released him in 1990. Mandela and de Klerk negotiated an end to apartheid and organised the 1994 multiracial general election in which Mandela led the ANC to victory and became President. Leading a broad coalition government which promulgated a new constitution, Mandela emphasised reconciliation between the country’s racial groups and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Economically, Mandela’s administration retained its predecessor’s liberal framework despite his own socialist beliefs, also introducing measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services. Internationally, he acted as mediator in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial and served as Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999. He declined a second presidential term and in 1999 was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela became an elder statesman and focused on combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the charitable Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life. Although critics on the right denounced him as a communist-terrorist and those on the radical Left deemed him too eager to negotiate and reconcile with apartheid’s supporters, he gained international acclaim for his activism. Widely regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice, he received more than 250 honours—including the Nobel Peace Prize—and became the subject of a cult of personality. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, “Madiba”, and described as the “Father of the Nation”.

President Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma  (born 12 April 1942) is a South African politician. He has served as the President of South Africa since 2009. Zuma is the President of the African National Congress (ANC), the governing political party, and was Deputy President of South Africa from 1999-2005. He was first elected by parliament following his party’s victory in the 2009 general election. He was re-elected in the 2014 election. Zuma is also referred to by his initials JZ  and his clan name Msholozi.

Zuma became the President of the ANC on 18 December 2007. He was re-elected as ANC leader at the ANC conference in Mangaung on 18 December 2012. Zuma was also a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP) briefly serving on the party’s Politburo until he left the party in 1990 On 20 September 2008. Jacob Zuma was elected President of South Africa in May 2009. Zuma was crowned ‘African President of the Year’ in 2009. Zuma became involved in politics at an early age, influenced by a family member who was a trade unionist.

He has served as Chairperson of the South African National Aids Council and as Chancellor at the University of Zululand. Zuma is a patron of the Peace and Reconstruction Foundation, as well as the Albert Luthuli Education and Development Foundation

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was born on September the 26th, 1936 in Bizana, Transkei. MadikizelaMandela did her Primary education in Bizana. She went to Emfundiweni Secondary School where she did a Junior Certificate and completed her Matric at Shawbury High School. She attained a Social Work diploma at the Jan Hofmeyer School in Johannesburg. In the midst of severe harassment by Apartheid Government in the late 1990’s, Madikizela-Mandela was able to attain a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Political Science and International relations at the University of Witwatersrand.

She is the recipient of numerous honorary doctorates including those from Maryland University of USA and in I G Benedeon University of Nigeria. Madikizela-Mandela was the first Black medical social worker in South Africa. It was during her work at Baragwanath Hospital that Madikizela-Mandela started to become politically active. She became more conscious of the abject poverty and appalling conditions under which black people were forced to live under Apartheid. Madikizela-Mandela’s involvement in South African liberation struggle dates back to the 1950’s. Her first detention was in 1958 and coincided with the mass arrest of women involved in the anti-Pass Campaign. At the time, she was the chairperson of the Orlando West Branch of both ANC and ANC Womens’s League. Madikizela-Mandela received the first of her several banning orders in 1962 which restricted her to Soweto.

Five years later she was arrested in Cape Town while on visit to her imprisoned husband, Nelson Mandela. This heralded numerous arrests and detentions which were to become her way of life! In 1969, she became one of the first detainees under Section 6 of the notorious Terrorism Act. She was detained for 18 months in solitary confinement in the condemned cell at Pretoria Central before being charged under the Suppression of the Communism Act. The famous “Trial of 22” took place in 1970. After initially being found guilty, Madikezela-Mandela and the other accused were discharged on appeal. Madikizela-Mandela was imprisoned in Kroonstad, along with her good friend Dorothy Nyembe until 1975. She was on the last National Executive Committee of the original ANC Women’s League, along with the other legends of the women’s struggle like Lillian Ngoyi, Florence Matomela and Frances Baard. After the ANCWL together with the ANC was banned, these women leaders tried to continue their work through the Federation of South African Women, and much later formed the Federation of S.A Black Women which were immediately banned.

In 1976 Madikizela-Mandela was actively involved in organizing young people to oppose substandard Bantu Education. Following the 1976 Soweto School uprising, she was arrested and served six months at “Number 4” (The Fort Prison). On May 16, 1977, Madikizela-Mandela was taken directly from the prison cell to Brandfort where she was banned for nine (9) years. In Brandfort, her house was bombed twice. She was then arrested for defying her restriction order by returning to her home in Soweto.

Winnie Mandela’s courage and leadership abilities have triumphed over the years of political harassment and severe personal pain to enable her to become the President of the ANCWL. With the democratic breakthrough of 1994, Madikizela-Mandela became a member of Parliament and Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture. Upon leaving Cabinet and Parliament, she dedicated her energy on working with different communities especially people affected by HIV and AIDS, poor and suffering. At the historic Polokwane Conference of the ANC in December 2007, Madikizela-Mandela was elected into the current National executive Committee of the ANC with 500 votes more than no.1. She was elected back to the National Parliament during the 2009 general elections. The life of Madikizela-Mandela encompassed commitment to community upliftment, the selfless struggle against apartheid and determination to build a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa.