Today, 13 January 2023, Frene Noshir Ginwala, an important figure in establishing democracy in South Africa, has died at the age of 90(born 12 April 1932).

She played a tremendous role in establishing underground escape routes for ANC (African National Congress) members in the period following the Sharpeville massacre and the declaration of the State of Emergency (SOE) in 1960. These included Deputy-President of the ANC Oliver Tambo and Yusuf Dadoo, two leaders of the liberation movement. She also organised safe houses for those who had to remain in the country. Ginwala also chauffeured NIC (Natal Indian Congress) leaders Monty Naicker and J. N. Singh, who were operating from the underground after managing to dodge the police swoop. Their instructions were to travel around the province and raise money from secret donors in order to support the families left destitute through the arrest of their breadwinners under the SOE which hung over the country for five months.

She is Africa | Frene Ginwala (managing editor ) and President Julius Nyerere (editor-in-chief) at a staff question and answer session in the newsroom of ‘The Standard’ in Dar es Salaam soon after the nationalisation of that East African country’s main English language newspaper in February 1971

During exile,  latter part of 1960, she and Tambo, and Dadoo established an exile ANC office in Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika . Ginwala was instrumental in establishing a communications system in the newly established United Republic of Tanzania. She traveled the world preaching the horrors of apartheid and the fight against it.

In 1990, while in exile, Ginwala was head of the Political Research Unit in the Office of ANC President Oliver Tambo, where she conducted research focusing on the transfer of military and nuclear technology. She also served as ANC spokesperson in the UK on sanctions, the nuclear programme and the arms and oil embargo relating to South Africa.

Ginwala helped to set up the Women’s National Coalition, which comprised organisations from across the political spectrum with the aim of drawing a women’s charter. 

Frene Ginwala (Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock)

At the request of President Julius Nyerere, she became the managing editor of the English-speaking daily newspaper Standard, and Sunday News.

In the first democratic South African elections in 1994, Frene Ginwala was elected to the Parliament of South Africa. She was nominated by the ANC caucus and elected by parliament as the Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa, a position she held from 1994 until 2004.

Education: LLB from University of London and PhD from Oxford University.

Lala Noxolo Frene Ginwala. Thank you for your tireless fight against racism and gender inequality.

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