Free State speaker Sisi Mabe dies

Free Sate legislature speaker Sisi Mabe has died, the provincial government said.

“She died on Sunday after a long illness,” spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said today.

Prior to being elected speaker after the May 7 national elections, Mabe was MEC for public works in the Free State.

The ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) said Mabe was deeply committed to advancing the cause of women’s rights in South African society, and during her tenures as both MEC for health and later MEC for public works and rural development she played a pivotal role in mainstreaming gender issues within policy and political decision-making.

“This is a sad day. In the late Sisi Mabe we had a committed and hard-working comrade who never lost sight of the immense responsibility that leadership had placed upon her, and upon us all; to remember our duty towards those who elected us,” said ANCWL president Angie Motshekga.

She said Mabe’s election as speaker of the Free State legislature in May was in line with the ANCWL’s call for each province with a male premier to elect a female speaker.

“As a member of the ANCWL policy sub-committee she played a pivotal role in the formulation of the Gender Framework 2014 and the series of recently released discussion documents around issues affecting South African women in the 20 years since democracy,” she said.

“As we look to the future of women’s rights in South Africa, today we have a roadmap to chart the course, and this is in no small part due to the efforts of activists like comrade Mabe.”

The Democratic Alliance said it had learned with sadness of the death of Mabe.

“The DA conveys our condolences to the family of Sisi Mabe, her friends, colleagues, and to the ANC,” said Roy Jankielsohn, DA leader in the Free State legislature.

Mabe was born in Phiritona, Heilbron, in the Free State, and was a teacher by profession.

She cut her teeth in politics as an executive member of the South African National Democratic Teachers Union, where she was responsible for gender issues.

She later became the regional treasurer of the ANCWL in the Free State.

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