Senior citizens, women in particular, must work as a united force just like the generations of 1918 and 1956 did.
This was a plea by Bathabile Dlamini, Minister of Social Development, while paying tribute to women during an International Women’s Day event in Khayelitsha, on Tuesday March 8.
Ms Dlamini said women such as Lillian Ngoyi, Fatima Meer, Ruth Mompati, Sonia Bunting, Ruth First and many others took on the struggle for liberation and emerged from years of arrests, bannings and detention victorious.
She also acknowledged the lack of resources for women and said though women fought for freedom, much still needed to be done to empower them.
Ms Dlamini said women showed courage when they marched to Pretoria in 1956 to protest against apartheid’s injustices.
“We must always remember women who played a pivotal role in the struggle for women’s emancipation. There was a time when women went to shebeens and spilled alcohol after realising that it was killing the nation. They saw that the country was in trouble. There was a time when they marched to Pretoria against pass laws. This is what we need to pass to the younger generations. These are stories they need to know.
“We should not forget women’s role in the struggle. We should work as a united force to quell those who criticise the struggle,” she said.
Ms Dlamini also donated blankets, wheelchairs, garden tools and plants to elderly people and their clubs.
She called on seniors’ clubs to play positive roles in their communities. She said elderly people should know that getting a pension was not a favour but a right. She said her department was refunding those whose monies were illegally deducted from their banks account.
“Living a better life now is not a favour. Having a pension and electricity is not a favour. It is as a result of the struggle of women like Adelaide Tambo, Charlotte Maxeke, Winnie Mandela, Miriam Makeba and many others. It is up to the youth to learn from the seniors citizens,” she said.
Ms Dlamini also credited the likes of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and others for inspiring women.
She lashed out at those who believed the country was better off during apartheid, but admitted mistakes were made by the current government.
She said those mistakes could be rectified.
Seniors commended Ms Dlamini for looking after them.
Nomvuyo Mkhandawana praised the minister for bringing the celebrations to Khayelitsha.
She said the minister’s generosity showed her care for seniors.
“I am so grateful that I am part of the event. We were collected in front of our places. These are the benefits of people who were in the struggle. It touches me to see that we are cared for.
“Under Bathabile we have our medication delivered to us, something we have never had before,” she said.
Another senior citizen, Edna Magoda said she was helped by Ms Dlamini to join a seniors’ club.