Meet Weziwe Tikana Gxothiwe, the Eastern Cape MEC, Department of Roads and Transport

We caught up with the Honorable MEC Department of Roads and Transport, Eastern Cape, Weziwe Tikana Gxothiwe, on one of her visits to Johannesburg and discussed her special recognition award by the Pan-African Women Economic Summit. The summit aims to position African Women at the forefront of the execution of the African Continent Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) through the creation of business linkages, discovering other sources of capital, sharing experience, and building new partnerships to enhance their entrepreneurial capacities.

She shared on her background, her journey in the political field and what the award means to her.

Tell us about your background and family upbringing

I never felt the love of my father, as he passed on when I was 1 year old. my mother also passed on while I was young at the age of 9. Within the years she was with us, I experienced her motherly love and care. She used to work at the Cala Hospital and she would always bring us bread, butter and syrup from the hospital to eat. My grandmother from my mother’s side took care of us after my mother passed on and she did her best.

I currently have five children with my husband, Mr. Gxothiwe. For me, its a blessing to have him, he is my support at all times. But what keeps us running is good communication because there are times when I’m not home and I have to focus on the political work, he is always there for the family.

How did you make the transition from being an educator into politics?

When I was young staying with my grandmother, she would usually tell us about the MK fighters in exile and my grandfather was a veteran who died in Lesotho. I had aspirations of being an accountant but my grandmother didn’t have enough resources to take me to school. I took a gap year and decided to do a Teacher’s course while supported by the Transkei government bursary for educators. I became a teacher after a year of the course.

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I wanted to become an entrepreneur, but after transformation, there was a need in local government and I got involved by being an admin support to the Councilor. I then joined the branch level of the African National Congress as a secretary and I was elected as Regional Treasurer and I was fortunate to serve for 3 terms. Comrades from my area encouraged me to serve as a Councilor also because they saw my interest and passion for community development and wanting to change lives of women. I ran for councillor and in the first council sitting I was elected as Mayor of the municipality and from there I started changing lives from the collapsing structure on ground and it became a self sustaining municipality.

After 5 years, I moved on to be a Director of Municipal Public Participation at the Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs.

The Award

I’m humbled, highly honoured to receive a recognition like this. The recognition gives me strength to keep on doing what I have been doing and supporting more women in the communities.

Since you are the recipient of Pan-African Women Economic Summit Award what does award mean to you

We’ve tried to support young women in the transport and maritime sector by helping them in their studies. We did this through government bursary programs and when they pass and succeed in their academics, they are able to get jobs and support their families.

Women empowerment within the transportation sector is key in your portfolio as MEC, can share some of the projects that you support?

We need more young engineers in the country and we are pushing programs to encourage young pilots and engineers and we are supporting them even to the level of Masters degrees. The engineering and construction space had been challenging because it’s dominated by men, but we are engaging with, and supporting women in various ways so they can grow in the industry.

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Community building and development has been your key drive within the work you do, could you share what are some of focus area that you will be pursuing.

One of my passions is to really support women and children who live in poverty in the rural areas. We need to encourage young children to go to school as I believe education is a key to success in life.

What legacies will you like to leave in your political career?

The aim is to assist and encourage young activists in their journey. I want to impact them with discipline and the importance of commitment to the struggle. Through our networks, I believe we can multiply more female activists.

What are some of the beautiful things you love about your province Eastern Cape?

It is the warmth of its people. Their resilience and their never say die attitude. The Eastern Cape’s most valuable assets are its people and it is for that reason we as government are doing everything possible to look after and invest in our people. The province’s contribution to the liberation struggle is impeccable and that is something we are proud of. We truly are THE HOME OF LEGENDS.

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