TRIBUTE BY THE PREMIER, MR SIHLE ZIKALALA, ON THE OCCASION OF THE FUNERAL OF THE FORMER DEPUTY MINISTER OF MINERAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY, MS BAVELILE HLONGWA, AT DURBAN ICC, 20 SEPTEMBER 2019.
President of the Republic, Hon. Ramaphosa
The Hlongwa Family and relatives
All members of the Cabinet and National Assembly
Leadership of the ANC and Alliance Structures at all levels
After many hours and days of refusal to accept that Cde Bavelile is no more, today the reality is sinking that she has indeed departed and never to return.
The invincible spear has fallen! The Boabab tree has fallen – never to rise again. One of the shining lights and product of our organisation the ANC has been taken away so suddenly.
Her life ended just when it was reaching her prime stage, like sun that set at dawn, like a soldier dying before the fight.
It is natural that at some stage all men and women must die but death will always vary in its significance. As the ancient Chinese Chinese writer Szuma Chien said “though death befalls all men alike, it may be weightier than Mount Tai or lighter than a feather. To die for the people is weightier than Mount Tai, but to work for the fascists and die for the exploiters and oppressors in lighter than a feather.”
Today we stand to proclaim without any fear of contradiction that the departure of Cde Bavelile Hlongwa is weightier that Mount Tai because she lived, struggles and died for the noble cause of her people.
Her whole life was about the struggle to the victory of humanity – even death stole her whilst assisting the people. Cde Bavelile could not life without the ANC, she lived ANC and the ANC was her daily way of living.
Given that we are struggling in a democratic environment, some comrades would be in the ANC because the ANC is in government, but for Cde Bavelile whether the ANC was in power or not, she would have been in the struggle. She was not in the ANC because things are easy, but she in the ANC for the struggle of the poor, the rural masses, the youth and women.
Cde Bavelile was known for her fearless and, at times, very combative engagement. She was a true embodiment of the wise counsel by Chairman Mao Zedong that “you may ban the expression of wrong ideas, but the ideas will still be there…Therefore it is only by employing the method of discussion, criticism and reasoning that we can really settle issues. Mistakes must be criticized and poisonous weeds fought wherever they crop up. However, such criticism should not be dogmatic. We must carefully distinguish between what is really a poisonous weed and what is a fragrant flower.”
In her life, she never suppressed wrong ideas, but she painstakingly reasoned with such ideas and avoided crude coercion. Her reasoning made it possible for many of us to distinguish between a poisonous weed and a fragrant flower.
Cde BV refused to live under the shadow of any person, dead or alive – hence she grew in her own stature to make her own indelible mark in the course of the revolution.
She learnt from those who came before her, but never abused their names for self-praised and adulation. She learnt from them in order of sharpen her own contribution to the cause of the people’s struggle.
As an ardent activist for total liberation of women, she correctly understood what is entailed in the struggle for women emancipation. She genuinely believed that the role women in human development cannot be reduced to being wives, mothers and entertainers.
She asserts that women’s inferiority in society is a result not of natural differences but of differences in upbringing of men and women. That at each stage of her upbringing a girl is conditioned into accepting passivity, dependence, repetition and inwardness. That every force in society conspires to deprive her of subjectivity and flatten her into an object. Denied the possibility of independent work or creative fulfillment, the woman must accept dissatisfying life of housework, childbearing and sexual slavishness.
Guided by these beliefs, Cde BV advanced the struggle for women in its truest sense and purpose. She rejected all forms of negative socialization of women, male chauvinism and was unwavering on the demands for equality not on the basis of quotas but as human beings.
Bavelile ceaselessly and selflessly advanced the struggles of young people. She was one of those who could not be stopped in advancing the interests of the ANC Youth League. When appointed as the Deputy Chairperson of the NYDA, together with her team, they changed the profile of the NYDA not through slogans but tangible plans of action towards uplifting the wellbeing of young people.
I have no better words to bid farewell to Cde Bavelile than reformulating from a poem by Mzilikazi Khumalo titled Ma Ngificwa Ukufa. This poem reads thus:
Ma Ngificwa Ukufa
Ngimbeleni ngaphansi kotshani
Duze nezihlahla zomyezane
Lapho amagatsha ayongembesa
Ngamaqabunga agcwele uhlaza
Ngozwa name ngilele ngaphantsi
Utshani ngaphezulu buhleba
“Lala qhawekazi, lal’uphumule”
Ngimbeleni ngaphezu kwemifula
Lapho inzinyoni zezulu zihlabelela
Zisho ngephimbo elincane
Zenanele ukwethwasa kwehlobo
Zehle ziphuze amanzi apholile
Ngozwa name ngilele ngaphansi
Utshani ngaphezulu buhleba
“Lala qhawekazi, lal’uphumule”
Because he was an extra-ordinary man, ngisho nemvelo iyofakaza ngaye.
But I repeat her ideals will live long and will triumph. The affirmation of women leaders in the ANC and in the society will triumph, the economic transformation of the country including addressing land ownership will be accomplished, and the plight of the unemployed youth and the poor rural and township masses will be addressed.
May the life of Cde Bavelile endure forever.