to South Africa's Minister of Foreign Affairs - Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was nominated by the International
Women’s Forum for an award titled "Women who make a difference", which was
conferred upon her on 19 October 2002 in Mexico. This tribute was produced to
coincide with the presentation of the award.
President Thabo Mbeki appointed Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, as the first
woman Minister of Foreign Affairs in a democratic South Africa. A medical doctor
by training, she was appointed by then President Nelson Mandela as the first Minister
of Health after the 1994 democratic elections.
This responsibility is a
continuation of decades of life of struggle and sacrifice as an activist in the
province of Kwazulu/Natal and rising within the ranks of the student movement
- firstly as a prefect at High School and a volunteer for blood transfusion programme
-to assume the vice-presidency of the then South African Students Organisation
(SASO) led by the late Steve Biko.
Her activism did not escape the attention
of the then apartheid security apparatus which through a sustained campaign of
harassment ultimately forced her into exile in the 1970s to join the ranks of
that tried and tested national liberation movement, that carried the hopes and
aspirations of millions of our people, the African National Congress (ANC).
with a Bachelor’s degree in Science, with Zoology and Botany as majors,
she continued her studies at the University of Bristol while simultaneously serving
as the Chairperson of the African National Congress’ (ANC) Youth Section
in Great Britain between 1977 and 1978 which mobilised the youth in the struggle
Upon graduation in 1978, she became the House Officer,
Surgery at the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol for two years, followed by another
two-year stint at the Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital in Berkshire.
this time her steadfast commitment to the ANC saw her elected to the position
of Vice Chairperson, Regional Political Committee, Great Britain between 1978
and 1988, and later became its Chairperson from 1988 – 1989. She also found
time to complete a postgraduate Diploma in Tropical Child Health at the School
of Tropical Medicine, University of Liverpool in 1986.
Between 1980 and
1985, Dr Dlamini Zuma was re-deployed by the ANC to Southern Africa where she
served as a Paediatric Medical Officer at the Mbabane Government Hospital in Swaziland
where she was also responsible for the medical needs of ANC cadres in that country.
transferred back to the UK where she was attached to the Wittington Hospital’s
Paediatric section between 1987 and 1989. During this time, she was also appointed
as the Director of the Health Refugee Trust (Heart), Health and Development Organisation
She was deployed to the ANC’s Health Department in Lusaka,
Zambia between 1989 and 1990, where she played a leading role not only in the
healthcare of the community in exile, but also made a major contribution to the
drafting of post-apartheid health policies.
When the ANC was unbanned in
1990 Dr Dlamini Zuma returned with all other ANC members from exile to help re-organise
the ANC legally inside the country and to prepare for negotiations between the
ANC and the apartheid government, which saw her once again playing a leading role
in the talks which resulted in the realisation of a non racial democracy in South
In this regard, she was elected a member of the ANC Southern Natal
Provincial Executive Committee while simultaneously serving as a member of the
ANC Women’s League, ANC Campaigns Committee, ANC Health Committee. Her hard
work and commitment to both the political and women’s struggle saw her elected
to the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC). After the historic first democratic
elections in 1994, she was appointed as the Minister of Health.
sterling leadership during her tenure as Minister of Health, Minister Dlamini
Zuma brought unprecedented progressive health legislation that changed fundamentally
the notion of health – care in South Africa.
For the first time in
the history of the South African people, our country saw the ushering in of progressive
pieces of legislation that ranged from giving access to health care to pregnant
women and children under six years as part of primary health care, recruitment
of Cuban doctors to address the health needs of our impoverished rural population,
the acceptance of the first group of South African students to study medicine
in Cuba who have now returned to complete their internship in South Africa.
her commitment to "putting people first", Minister Dlamini Zuma pioneered legislation
that banned tobacco sports sponsorship, which laid the basis for the passage of
the legislation on "no smoking policy" in public areas.
to" people first" under Minister Dlamini Zuma created innovative pilot programmes
that saw South Africa embarking on a programme for community service for medical
students, interns and junior doctors.
Reproductive rights for women during
Minister Dlamini Zuma’s tenure received high prominence, which laid the
basis for the current legislation on the termination of pregnancy Act.
Dlamini Zuma’s commitment to the comprehensive anti -tobacco legislation;
the fight against HIV/AIDS and the campaign for accessible and affordable medicines
for the poor, saw her lock horns with the powerful pharmaceutical companies.
battle with the pharmaceutical companies was ultimately settled when the companies
withdrew their case against the South African Government. This was hailed as a
victory not only for South Africa but the poor around the world particularly in
the developing world.
Her leadership has also been recognised by multilateral
academic institutions alike. She was the Deputy Chairperson
of UNAIDS in 1995, was inaugurated as the Chancellor of ML Sultan Technikon in
Durban in 1996 and has been conferred with honorary Doctor of Laws degrees by
the University of Natal in 1995 and the University of Bristol in 1996. The University
of Transkei also awarded her with an honorary Doctor of Medicine (Honoris Causa)
degree in May 1997.
In 1999, President Thabo Mbeki saw it fit to appoint
her Minister of Foreign Affairs. In this context, Minister Dlamini Zuma has worked
tirelessly, as part of the South African collective, in pursuit of creating a
better life and a better world for all.
In pursuance of this objective,
she was elected President of the UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR); Chairperson
of the African Union (AU) Ministers’ Council; President of the Ministers’
Council for the recently held UN World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)
at which she also led the negotiations on behalf of the President.
as part of the OAU collective, she has participated in a number of OAU delegations
to help bring about peace, stability, development and prosperity to the African
continent. She has also led a number of these initiatives, the Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC), Comoros and Lesotho can be mentioned.
Minister Dlamini Zuma
was the only woman in the South African Bid Commitee led by President Thabo Mbeki,
to Zurich Switzerland and included Nobel Peace Laureates Former President Nelson
Mandela, Former President F W de Klerk and Archbishop Desmond Tutu where South
Africa was awarded the right to host the most beautiful spectacle in the world
- the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Minister Dlamini Zuma is the current Co-convenor
of the National Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa having been launched
in Bloemfontein on 9 August 2006 during the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the
historic 1956 Women's March to Union Buildings in Pretoria.
Dr Dlamini Zuma
is able to fulfill all her responsibilities primarily because of the unflinching
support of her four daughters- Msholozi, Gugu, Thuli and Thuthu.
Minister Dlamini Zuma became an Honorary professor of the Belarusian State University University.