Thabethe hailed as “a selfless cadre and servant leader’


SOUTH Africa’s former Deputy Minister of Tourism Elizabeth Thabethe, who was laid to rest yesterday, was hailed as a selfless cadre, transformational servant leader, compassionate woman of impeccable character and great wisdom.

Speakers at her funeral service, held in Katlehong, east of Johannesburg, yesterday paid loving tributes to Thabethe (62), who had served as Deputy Minister for the portfolios Trade and Industry, Small Business and Tourism and Presidential Envoy on Investment. She was buried at the Heroes Acre at the Thomas Nkobi Cemetery in South Park.

Panyaza Lesufi, the deputy chairperson of the ANC in Gauteng, led the tributes.

“When we couldn’t walk, Ma carried us. When we couldn’t feed ourselves, Ma fed us. When we needed guidance, Ma guided us. When our lives were in trouble, Ma resolved them for us,” Lesufi said.

Lesufi described Thabethe as a mother who had provided everlasting love and a parliamentarian who served the people.

“We’ve lost a senior member of our movement and its leagues. The one that shaped and sharpened the thoughts on how our society should be protected. The one that cared, sacrificed and work hard for us,” he maintained.

Lesufi described Thabethe as a powerful woman of calm demeanour, whose thoughts have opened the doors of liberation, a community builder, a civil leader, comforter and a role model.

ANC Women’s League Provincial Chairperson, Faith Mazibuko recognized the role that Thabethe, a former patron of South African Womens Enterprise Network,had played in promoting women empowerment.

Mazibuko said: “Comrade Elizabeth as a former Deputy Chairperson of the ANCWL in the province properly represented us in all the work that she did even when she was deployed as a Deputy Minister. She worked for the emancipation of women through policies and programmes including interpreting the needs of women.”

In a tribute delivered on behalf of the Bertha Qowa Foundation (BQF), of which Thabethe was its founding member, Dr. Namane Maqau highlighted that she had served in various leadership roles with dignity and integrity.

She maintained the focus on broadening access to information, support and opportunities for people, accentuated Maqau

“She was a multiplier and made those who worked with her or interacted with her feel brighter. It was her passion for development of young girls that made TechnoGirls impactful. Development of enterprises and in particular, promoting women owned enterprises was a mission she articulated wherever she went,” she said.

Maqua emphasised that the BQF had benefitted extensively from Thabethe’s knowledge and commitment to developing entrepreneurs.

“The love for people and leadership through service defined her,” she stressed.

Chairman of the Small Business Institute, Xolani Qubeka, in his tribute,  celebrated Thabethe’s contribution to small business in SA. He said the small business arena was  orphaned because it has lost in her a champion who was passionate about buying local.

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