October 13, 2020


pwmsa news


07/09/1965 - 13/10/2020

The National Convenor of the Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize joins South Africans and the agricultural community in mourning a land reform champion, farmer and an inspiration to many women Dr Vuyo Mahlati, who’s passing came as a great shock on Tuesday, 13th October 2020.

Taking from her profile given to the organization by her, Dr Vuyo Mahlati has transcended borders and disciplines as a global and thought leader. Her boldness has seen her appointed by Presidents and International Organizations to tackle difficult situations. Dr Vuyo was an innovative social entrepreneur known more for her roles in public policy and development activism locally and globally. At the time of her passing, she was the President of African Farmers Association of South Africa (AFASA). In September 2018 she was appointed by the President to Chair the Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture.

She opened a wool and cashmere processing plant at Butterworth, Eastern Cape as a social entrepreneur with her factory becoming Africa’s first Indigenous goats Cashmere processing plant. Her award winning factory has produced a high value fabric luxury brand Dedani collection that has been showcased locally, UK, Europe and USA.

Her qualifications include a PhD from the University of Stellenbosch. Her thesis focused on the role of value chains in mainstreaming rural entrepreneurs into global markets. It was the only selected thesis by the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, to be presented at the University’s inaugural New Voices in Science Colloquium. She obtained her MSc from the UK London School of Economics.

Dr Vuyo was a prominent leader who was nominated as a Trustee for the National Children & Violent Trust in 2003 and was selected as the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for the same organization from 2005 2009. She served two terms as member of South Africa’s National Planning Commission (2010-2020) that released the National Development Plan. Dr Mahlati was active in the women’s movement as a gender activist for years. These include the South African Women in Dialogue (SAWID) where she remains a Trustee and Chair of the Development Commission.

In 2015-2019 Dr Mahlati served as a Global Director to the International Women’s Forum (IWF) Board, based in the Headquarters of the IWF in Washington DC. The aforementioned appointment followed the end of two successful terms where Dr Mahlati served as President of IWF South Africa from June 2011- July 2015.

In the recent PWMSA Webinar that was held on the 28th August 2020 under the theme: “Realizing Women’s Right to Land Ownership and Financially Enabled Production”, Dr Vuyo played a prominent role by sharing with women lessons learnt from her involvement in the advisory panel on land reform. She also facilitated an interactive session on action to be taken by participants towards realizing their rights to land ownership and financially enabled production.

Dr Vuyo achieved numerous successes and received accolades for her hard work and dedication. Amongst her awards, in 2019 the African Women Chartered Accountants gave her the 2019 Woman if Substance Award. On 28 October 2014, Dr Vuyo Mahlati received the Mail and Guardian, Southern Africa Trust Individual Award for Drivers of Change. The Judges of this award commented that: “President of the International Women’s Forum of South Africa and entrepreneur – typifies the idea of an African Renaissance woman. While working both practically and intellectually in the urban development, poverty reduction, gender equality and policy implementation spheres – she is still committed to the ethos of Ubuntu and care. “Her humility and keen grasp of economic and development issues at the micro and macro levels make her one of Africa’s most persuasive young leaders”.

Honorary Doctoral Award in April 2019 by Nelson Mandela University for her contribution to bringing urgency and intensifying the global call for inclusive economic growth and development, and to your scholarship and praxis of entrepreneurship and economic development, particularly in marginal rural economies.

The organisation recognise and greatly appreciate the contributions Dr Vuyo has made to change lives. She advocated for women to be given land and ensured that the economic upliftment of women from previously disadvantaged South African communities is achieved.

The organisation sends it heartfelt condolences to the Mahlati family, relatives and friends.

May her soul rest in peace.

Issued by:
Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize
PWMSA National Convenor

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