Phakamisa meets Premier

Once upon a time, and place, in this project for a model on rural communications; first things first, it was national women’s month. This had come with renewed national scandals on girl and women abuses, fresh vehement condemnations of abuses from people, organisations, the President and Cabinet ministers, and all levels of official spokespersons.    

At this time, here, the opening of this TOVERVIEW was surrounded by years of local scandal and HearSays about the plight of particularly the girl-child at a school in Colesberg. It is naturally hoped and trusted there will be updates from the police, the education department, the health department, and the range of relevant officials to face credible fears and anxieties doing the rounds.

So, it was good to read in our local Umsobomvu municipal facebook that the Premier of the Northern  Cape, Dr Zamani Saul, was to speak in Lowryville, Colesberg on women’s day. This was announced in a comprehensive northern cape poster (please see below). And, seeing that the premier is also a very prominent son of these rural parts, who we should be proud to host, we asked independent creative writer Phakamisa Mayaba – at the last minute – would he not please drop in at the gathering, and taste the coffee?

To our relief, he did so. The next day he messaged: ‘Mr Oz. Was supposed to be done with this yesterday. But this phone is a nightmare. If you’re ok with this, feel free to post it on Toverview‘. When we tasted his report, it was a delight, we thought, a fresh independent local voice on a crisis of  international, national, provincial and local concern.

We then choose this headline: WOMEN’S MONTH EMPHASIS. IMPORTANCE OF GIRL-CHILDREN SCHOOLING & MATRIC PASSES… Premier Dr Zamani Saul at Lowryville, Colesberg.

And, because there were no meeting photographs we knew of, we choose this official one of the premier, relying on Phakamisa’s words to help give flesh and blood, interest and life.

Report by Phakamisa Mayaba. (Local creative writer of the independent  eParkeni site click on the logo below to visit his website).


Phakamisa Mayaba (left), creative writer from Colesberg, with local vegetable entrepreneur Charles Gavaza – another story to come….

Packed to the rafters at the Lowryville community hall, Colesberg residents were eager to hear what was on the province’s first citizen, Dr Zamani Saul’s mind this in Woman’s Day, 9 August. By 9am the premises were teeming, scores milling outside for seating they would not get, what with the hordes that had enthusiastically descended. In the company of Regional Chairperson Khathazile Tolong and much of the provincial executive – the Northern Cape Premier was greeted warmly by the Mayor of Umsobomvu, Mzwandile Toto, who, keeping to theme, had a message fashioned to the commemorations at hand.

“The world would not move without women…there will be no better men without women,” said the mayor. Also he could not stress enough how crucial women empowerment was to “opening doors of investment.”

PRIDE OF CHOIRS…  A resounding performance by the Colesberg Primary and Umso High choirs had everybody up on their feet. Their shrilling iimbongi causing stirs and ululations from the dashing audience in women’s league regalia complete with the traditional doeks. The two schools have done the community exceedingly proud, bagging a respectable second placing at a recent regional choir competition. The Premier, literally a towering figure two-stepping alongside the Colesberg Primary outfit was in upbeat spirits. Up his sleeves were some inane niceties about his ex classmates at Umso High, some jibes at men who can’t even cook yet compete with women for catering tenders, but first there were the pressing reasons why he had come.

Women empowerment. Gender-based violence. What is to be done?… He began with a cursory lesson on the historical significance of the day, highlighting how in 1956 some 20 000 women marched down to the Union Buildings in protest against the carrying of the “very humiliating” dompass. Then positing the question:

  “What does that sacrifice mean today?” [My emphasis]

PREMIER’S EMPHASIS… Getting “the girl-children in school” and “increasing the number of girls who pass matric” was something he attached great emphasis on. Of the 307 000 school learners across the province, said Dr Saul, 49% are girls. Although this is a slightly slimmer figure to their male counterparts, at a recent graduation ceremony at the Sol Plaatjie University he was pleasantly surprised to discover that 62% of graduates were women. On the issue of gender-based violence (GBV), a national scourge that has an unnerving incline, the Premier said that it is not a women problem, but men.”

And that government “commit [themselves] to the total onslaught of gender-based violence.” Furthermore he added that, “if you are more educated you are less likely to be subjected to abuse.” Here he urged the community not to turn a blind eye to incidents of children not being at school. (An aside: Toverview will be running a follow-up story on this). He believes that if your own children are at school but your neighbours’ aren’t, chances are yours is the first house they will break in to should they turn to criminality.


2nd from right is Lieutenant General Koliswa Otola

Dr Saul did begrudgingly admit that the first quarter of this year’s crime statistics did not reflect favourably on the province. Incidents of sexual assault and rape were on the incline. On this score he has welcomed the appointment of Lieutenant General Koliswa Otola, a “tough” woman, as the provincial police commissioner. “Every police you see, she is their boss.” This was met by the quintessential, “you strike a woman, you strike a rock” from the cheering crowd.


The day was not only about serious issues though; there were also sweeteners to be dished out. R100 000 to the cheerful Colesberg Primary choir. Another R150 000 to their Umso counterparts. R10 000 was earmarked for at least 30 identified women-owned businesses – the Gogo Dlaminis who sell you coffee on your way to work or stitch up your torn trousers. According to the Premier’s Facebook page a total of R5.3million was also said to be “made available for small women businesses and enterprises in the area.”


Nthabiseng Majiya, the Banyana Banyana starlet from dustblown Phillipolis was also handed a whopping R100 000 cheque. You might remember her as the feisty juggernaut who slammed away a gobsmacking goal against Botswana at the recent WAFCON. (Please see her portrait photograph from women football sponsor Sasol ).

Nthabiseng Majiya, the Banyana Banyana starlet from dustblown Phillipolis.
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