Dr Ginwala lauded a selfless pioneer at her memorial service

The late National Assembly Speaker, Dr Frene Ginwala, has been lauded as a selfless pioneer who gave her life to the African National Congress (ANC) and the people of South Africa.

Dr Ginwala played a pivotal role in assisting those fleeing the apartheid regime into exile and helped establish the party’s offices in Tanzania.

Family, friends, dignitaries and leaders of various political parties paid tribute to Dr Ginwala, who was also a journalist, during an official memorial service held at the Johannesburg City Hall on Tuesday.

President Ramaphosa delivered the Eulogy. “It is telling that among her earlier political assignments, she was called upon to find ways for ANC leaders to clandestinely leave the country. At a time of great uncertainty and danger, she established routes and identified means of passage where before there had been none. Through ingenuity, through courage, through determination and diligence, she forged new paths. Throughout her life she was a pioneer, a pathfinder, a leader in the true sense of the word. She was labelled as a travel agent, this was a woman who ensured safe passage for OR Tambo.”


Ginwala, an activist, lawyer, and writer, assisted in the establishment of safe passage routes for exiled comrades such as former ANC President Oliver Tambo, Ronald Segal, and Yusuf Dadoo, among others.

Ginwala was described as a feminist who fought for emancipation not only in her political home but in society. In 1991, Ginwala fought for a 30% women representation at the 48th National conference of the party.

Through her relentless efforts, the ANC is now hailed for achieving the 50/50 representation that she, amongst others, championed after the unbanning of the party.

In her role as the Speaker of Parliament, she opened up a previously racially exclusive and male institution to broader South Africans.

Says Ramaphosa, “It was in her role as the first Speaker of a democratically elected National Assembly, that comrade Frene 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 divert that reflected culture and practices of the people of South Africa.”

In memory of Ginwala, ANC members were reminded to fight for non-racialism not only in the broader society but within the movement itself.

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says, “This is one of the things that we should never forget about the role that the role played by all racial groups in the struggle for liberation for this country. I’m raising this because Mr President having noted as Speaker that as we come out of conference, the non-racialism of our leadership has gone down, we fought very hard to ensure that the ANC has leadership which is non-racial.”

Ginwala left an indelible mark on the minds of many people and her family. All and sundry were implored to take a leaf out of her book of life.


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