Frene Ginwala 2003


Frene Noshir Ginwala was born on 25 April 1932 in Johannesburg. Some time after finishing school, she left the country and began studying towards a legal degree at King’s College in London. Five years later, she returned to South Africa to continue her studies whilst working as a journalist.

However, her return to South Africa was to be short-lived as she left the country in 1960 - as a student - to arrange the escape from South Africa of the late Oliver Tambo, then President of the ANC.

She completed her law studies at London University, qualifying as a Barrister at Law at the Inner Temple and obtaining a Doctorate in Philosophy from Oxford. Whilst in the UK, she worked as a researcher and lecturer and assisted the passage of other ANC members into exile. She then became the head of the political research unit in Oliver Tambo’s office and official spokesperson of the ANC in the United Kingdom.  Whilst in exile, she also lived in Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania where she was employed as a journalist. In 1969, Tanzanian President Nyerere appointed her as managing editor of two Tanzanian English newspapers, “The Standard” and “The Sunday News”.

After 30 years in exile, Dr Ginwala returned to South Africa and was appointed to the Secretariat in Nelson Mandela’s office shortly after the unbanning of the ANC.

In 1991, she was appointed as Head of the ANC’s Research Department - a position she held for three years.  She was also the ANC representative on the Science and Technology Initiative and presently heads the ANC Archives Committee.

A keen women’s rights activist, Dr Ginwala was a member of the Task Force which established the ANC Women’s League. She served as Deputy Head of the ANC’s Commission for the Emancipation of Women from 1992 – 1994 and was a founder member of the Women’s National Coalition which unites women across political, economic, social and religious spheres, later being elected as National Convenor.

She made headlines after the first democratic elections by becoming the first woman in South Africa’s history to be elected and sworn in as Speaker of the National Assembly.

Besides her key role as Speaker of the Assembly, she retains her membership of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC, acts as convenor of the NEC sub-committee on Governance and Legislature and still finds time to serve on the Informal Advisory Group to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

In 1995 Dr Ginwala was invited by the United Nations to lead their Women’s ( Programme on International Day at the World Summit for Social Development. She also lead the South African Parliamentary Delegation to the Fourth International Women’s Congress hosted by the United Nations in Beijing in the same year.

She becomes the first Chancellor of the Port Elizabeth Technikon on 25 March 1997. Now in her second term as Chancellor, Dr Frene Ginwala has served the PE Technikon with distinction and has promoted the cause of technology and technological education through various activities and as the ANC representative on the Science a& Technology initiative.

“Service of excellence in the interest o fthe community in the fields of statesmanship, culture, society, politics, education, economics, arts and other walks of life” earns her this prestigious award.

The Council and Senate of the PE Technikon wish to accord recognition to one of South Africa’s top politicians.  It is an honour to confer the degree DOCTOR TECHNOLOGIAE (HONORIS CAUSA) ON DR FRENE NOSHIR GINWALA.