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Ms Bomo Edna Edith Molewa (Posthumous)

The Order of Mapungubwe in

Ms Bomo Edna Edith Molewa (Posthumous) Awarded for:
Her exceptional contribution to the fight to save our planet. Having served her country during the liberation struggle, she immersed herself in the global efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change on the planet. Through her tireless efforts, South Africa is recognised as one of the global leaders in matters of environment justice.
Ms Bomo Edna Edith Molewa was born on 23 March 1957 in the then Warmbaths (now Bela-Bela) and later relocated to the then Bophuthatswana (now North West) together with her family.

She began her political activism at Hebron Training College where she completed her high school education and she identified herself with the aims, objectives and aspirations of the former liberation movement, the African National Congress.

It was a difficult time politically in the country where the apartheid regime had fully deployed its apartheid tactics and this is where the student and labour movements were working underground to overthrow the oppressive government. Molewa was part of these movements until she taught at Moloto and Makaunyane Secondary schools respectively between 1976 and 1981.

Molewa has served this country well throughout her years of service both in the struggle for liberation and in various capacities in government. She left the teaching profession for the retail sector where she continued with her political activism, advocacy and standing up for
the voiceless, and eventually served within leadership structures of trade unions and civic movements.

She rose through the trade union ranks from being a shop steward in the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (SACCAWU) to being the Chairperson of the Warmbaths branch of SACCAWU and Chairperson of the branch of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in the Gauteng region.

She was elected as the second Deputy President of SACCAWU in 1987 and later served two terms as the first Deputy President of SACCAWU. She was also one of the founding members of COSATU where she served the regional structures.

She continued with her political activism even after the unbanning of the ANC and trade union movements in 1990, and was trained as a negotiator and arbitrator through the Independent Mediation and Arbitration Institute of South Africa and practised in the trade union movement.

Between 1992 and 1994, SACCAWU appointed her to serve on the Board of the National Labour Economic Institute, which played a role in the development of South Africa’s economic policies.

In 1994, she was elected as one of the first Members of Parliament in the new democratic dispensation and served as the first female Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry.

Her exceptional work in environmental conservation began in 1996 when she was a Member of the Executive Council responsible for Environmental Affairs where she headed the environmental management, conservation and tourism functions.

She also served in various provincial government departments namely Tourism, Environment and
Conservation (1996-1998); Economic Development and Tourism (1998-2000); and Agriculture, Conservation and Environment (2000-2004).

As part of her drive to place environmentally sustainable development at the heart of provincial economic growth, she mooted and championed the establishment of three United Nations (UN) Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World heritage sites.

In 2004, she became the first female Premier of North West and continued with strategic environmental programmes, especially where collaboration was necessary between provinces and national government to achieve natural and cultural heritage conservation objectives.

Whilst Premier of North West, she served as Chairperson of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL), Provincial Treasurer of the ANC and eventually elected as the first woman for the position of the Provincial Chairperson of the ANC in North West. Molewa was appointed to Cabinet as Minister of Social Development in 2009 and in 2010 as Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs.

She was instrumental in South Africa signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Water
Resources Council and setting up of the strategic water partners Network in South Africa, which sought to manage and secure strategic water resources.

Molewa was a respected leader on the African continent in a number of areas relating to water security, the environment and the global Sustainable Development Agenda.

She also served as head of delegation to a number of international negotiations in various fields. She prioritised the global climate change crisis at both national and international levels, and facilitated the development of South Africa’s National Climate Change Response Policy (2011).

She advocated for a number of interventions, including growing the country’s Oceans Economy through the Malaysia’s Big Fast Results Methodology.

She advocated for the orientation of the Security Cluster into Rhino Protection, which led to the Integrated Strategic Management of Rhinoceros Approach that was adopted by Cabinet in 2014.

Her multidisciplinary approach released statistics which indicated that rhino poaching numbers continued to decline successively.

In 2015, she was elected to serve in the National Executive Committee of the ANCWL and served with distinction in various committees such as the National Dispute Resolution Committee until her untimely passing in 2018.

She was also the first Chancellor of the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University and served eight times as Acting President of South Africa.

She was a member of the National Executive Committee and National Working Committee of the ANC.

She also served as the Chairperson of the National Disciplinary Committee as well as the International Relations Subcommittee, which delivered on research and capacity support that paved the way for groundbreaking foreign policy resolutions being made at the ANC’s 54th National Conference held in Johannesburg in 2017.