Messages of sympathy have been flooding in following the death of ANC MP Violet Siwela, who died in the early hours of Wednesday, January 19, 2024, at the age of 67.
Siwela has steadily climbed the ranks of the governing party, establishing a solid support base in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, where she served as a ward councillor many years ago.
Siwela is widely recognized for her impactful role as a woman empowerment activist, bringing the first public library to her community of Dwarsloop. Her efforts have not only made a significant difference locally but have also gained recognition at both provincial and national levels, putting the Bohlabela Region on the map.
In addition to becoming the ANC’s second-in-command and deputizing former Mpumalanga ANC Chairperson David Mabuza, she also took on various responsibilities within the provincial cabinet.
Siwela has held positions in the Provincial Government, serving as MEC for Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs, as well as MEC for Human Settlement. Additionally, she held the position of Speaker of the Mpumalanga Legislature before being elevated to the national executive committee, which is the ANC’s highest decision-making body between conferences. At the time of her passing, she held the position of Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development in the National Assembly.
Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane expressed deep sadness over Siwela’s passing, highlighting her significant contributions to the welfare of the citizens of Mpumalanga.
“Siwela’s attributes as a leader with strong work ethics and humility, is imprinted in the housing and agricultural programs that were implemented during her tenure in both departments. Her war against poverty was a writing on the wall, with the construction of many houses to shelter citizens in
distress, as evidence. She went beyond the call of duty to implement poverty-alleviation programmes, as part of food security in Mpumalanga. On behalf of the Provincial Government and the citizens, we convey our condolences to Siwela’s family. May her soul rest in peace,” said Mtshweni-Tsipane.
Siwela joined the National Assembly in 2019, as stated by National Assembly spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.
“At the time of her passing, served as the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development. She brought extensive and diverse experience in the legislative sector and public service, having previously held positions such as Speaker of the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, MEC for the Departments of Agriculture and Human Settlements, as well as Executive Mayor of the Bushbuckridge Municipality.
“Ms Siwela’s history of public service exemplifies a lifelong dedication to the betterment of South Africa and its people, and today she leaves behind a legacy of compassionate, selfless, and tireless service. Throughout her life as a community activist, politician, educator, and legislator, she relentlessly championed the rights and well-being of South Africans, striving for social justice, access to education, healthcare services, food security, and decent housing to meet the essential needs of the people,” said Mothapo.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Amos Masondo, also expressed their condolences.
“She was passionate about the economic liberation of the nation’s previously marginalized majority and through her leadership of the Portfolio Committee on Small Enterprises, exemplified an unwavering commitment to achieving a significant and transformative shift in the economic landscape. At the time of her passing, she was leading efforts within the Portfolio Committee to draft groundbreaking legislation aimed at empowering small businesses and ensuring their meaningful contribution to economic growth,” said the Presiding Officers in a joint statement.
Stella Ndabeni, the Minister of Small Business Development, also offered her condolences.
“On behalf of the department and the entire DSBD family, I convey our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, comrades, and her political home, the African National Congress. We wish them strength and fortitude during this moment of grief. We hope they will find comfort in the knowledge that the entire nation shares in their pain. Inspired by her proud legacy, we pledge to continue working tirelessly to ensure the growth and sustainability of small businesses. In her name and in honor of her legacy, we commit to ensure that the National Small Enterprise Amendment Bill is passed,” said Ndabeni.
She mentioned that the Bill aims to make changes to the National Small Enterprise Act. These changes include creating the Small Enterprise Development Finance Agency (SEDFA) and getting rid of the Small Enterprise Financing Agency (Sefa), the Co-operative Banks Development Agency (CBDA), and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda). Additionally, the Bill proposes the creation of the Office of the Small Enterprise Ombud Service.