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The emancipation of women is an integral part of Joburg’s policies, and it is helping them “to climb the ladder of prosperity”.

 

WOMEN entrepreneurs shared their experiences of how the City has helped them become better business people at an interactive session.

 

MMC for finance Parks Tau addresses women entrepreneurs (Photo: Enoch lehung, City of Johannesburg)MMC for finance Parks Tau addresses women entrepreneurs (Photo: Enoch lehung, City of Johannesburg)The member of the mayoral committee for finance, Parks Tau, and other City officials attended the meeting, held at the Joburg Theatre Complex on 12 May.

“We came here to interact to understand how each of us fits in the City, and for you [business owners] to tell us what we can improve and revamp,” said councillor Dietla Lichaba, who chaired the meeting.

In this vein, women who had been imprisoned during the apartheid years came forward to share how the City helped them through the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP).

A woman who introduced herself only as Nolundi, shared her story: she came to Joburg in November 1979 in search of a better life; she had plans to further her education. But it all came to a screeching halt when she got arrested for not presenting her pass.

“I was in Number Four prison from 1980 to 1984 and was not able to further my studies,” she said. After her release, she worked at odd jobs but lost her job in 2009. She couldn’t afford to pay her bond and the bank phoned her night and day threatening to repossess her flat.

“I got advice from a friend to register a business, which I did on the Johannesburg Roads Agency database. I then received a call saying I was one of the contractors to receive training,” she said.

The comprehensive training she and approximately 50 others received included paving and pothole patching, which proved invaluable. “I didn’t get enough formal education but because of the City of Joburg, I could pay off my unit.”

She said that if she had any advice for Tau, it would be to continue the work Masondo started. “I hope EPWP is here to stay.”

Tau explained that the emancipation of women was an integral part of the City’s policies, as “black women bore the brunt of the worst of apartheid”. He said it therefore became important to form partnerships that would advance the development of South Africans.

“We need to ensure that we create opportunities for our people to climb the ladder of prosperity through measures such as skills development and training,” he said. “We have to overcome poverty in our country.”

It was also important, he said, to focus on the areas of society which needed the help the most. “To address what has historically been a problem, you need to have a bias towards those that have historically suffered.

“We don’t want reverse apartheid with rich blacks and poor whites, but we need to focus on those that need it most.”

He explained that the government needed to strike a balance by maintaining services in places that had them and expanding to those that didn’t. However, it would not be a simple task. “Development is not a magic wand; it is going to continue being a struggle,” Tau warned.

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