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Nomazizi Mtshotshisa (Posthumous)

The Order of Luthuli in

Nomazizi Mtshotshisa (Posthumous) Awarded for:
Being the embodiment of courageous leadership by women in South Africa, and for her outstanding contribution to the struggle for democracy.

Profile of Nomazizi Mtshotshisa

Nomazizi Mtshotshisa was born in 1944 to Nyameka and Mbangeli Mtshotshisa in East London in the Eastern Cape. She attended school at Healdtown in the Eastern Cape and also completed a Bachelor of Nursing Science degree at the University of South Africa (Unisa).

In South Africa, the democratic dispensation has opened equal opportunities, which enable women to also rise to the highest levels both in the private and public sectors. Mtshotshisa remains an icon who demonstrates the importance of role models who provide effective and strong female leadership.

Mtshotshisa worked as a legal aid assistant before being appointed as Director of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL). She coordinated NADEL and travelled throughout the country to ensure that political prisoners were provided with legal aid. Her support during political trials was critical as she ensured access for lawyers and families to political detainees.

In addition, Mtshotshisa also often travelled to Harare in Zimbabwe where she mobilised external support and resources for the struggle against apartheid. Some of the people who worked with her at NADEL later became judges and remember her with respect.

Mtshotshisa also contributed to the building of democracy through her leadership regarding state-owned enterprises and she made her mark firmly in the business sector. This became especially evident when she chaired the free-to-air television station, eTV. In 2002, she was appointed Chairman of Telkom’s Board, a position she occupied until October 2006 when she passed away.

Mtshotshisa’s chairmanship came soon after Telkom’s exclusivity in fixed-line provision came to an end.

During this challenging phase, her leadership and vision guided the company through a rapid and far-reaching transformation that resulted in unprecedented growth and a dual listing on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange.

She continued to steer the company deploying new technologies and expanding its range of products and services. Board members who served under Mtshotshisa speak warmly of her sense of purpose, her humility and her determination to seek out and embrace change. Those who came into contact with her were struck by her deep sense of humanity and humility. She was, above all, a person who cared for others and who treated everyone with respect.

At Telkom, Mtshotshisa was not only a woman at the pinnacle of a huge and influential company but, she was also a leader in the true sense of the word. She believed in motivating and influencing other women and set an example they could follow.