African National Congress (ANC) president Cyril Ramaphosa says coming to Charlotte Maxeke’s 150th commemoration in Gqugesi village in the Eastern Cape is like visiting a fountain of wisdom as this is a place where she grew up and went to school.

The ANC leader says it is not often that a person born 150 years ago is honoured and celebrated, adding that the ANC’s history goes beyond the 109 years of the party’s existence.

Ramaphosa was the main speaker at the commemoration to remember an icon who fought tirelessly for the emancipation of women. He used the platform to denounce all forms of corruption within the ANC.

He calls for unity and hails Maxeke for being an extraordinary leader.

“The ANC is the heritage of the people of South Africa. You cannot talk about the history of South Africa without talking about the African National Congress and today, we cannot talk about the history of South Africa without talking about uMam’uCharlotte Maxeke. She was an outstanding leader, a leader with great wisdom. Later today, I’ll be spending more time talking about Charlotte Maxeke, about her great qualities, incredible qualities that we need today out of the leaders, who are going left, right, and centre in our country.”

Representation of women within the party 

ANC women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini has urged young women to take up leadership roles to promote gender equality and unity.

Dlamini says these are the values the late political stalwart Charlotte Maxeke stood for, explaining the need to have women’s representation in the decision-making bodies of the ANC.

She says, as women, they have decided that they need 50% representation within ANC structures across the board.

“When we went to Mafikeng, we allowed men to push us to withdraw the name of Comrade Winnie. When we went to Polokwane, when there were names of women that were suggested to serve in the officials other women stood up to say the officials are not a structure and that is the highest structure where very key decisions are taken, and then in the last conference we learned our lesson. We must be united as women and that’s why we have decided we are going to come together, come up with all the names of the women we want.”

Service delivery 

Residents also took the opportunity to inform the president of the ANC of a lack of basic services in their area.

“We don’t have water. We don’t have a clinic. We don’t have a police station and we have to travel far to access these facilities.”

Another resident says, “One of the challenges confronting this community is the lack of education, hence we are saying it will benefit young people if a college is built.”

Ramaphosa committed to attending to the issues raised by the community.

A monument in honour of Maxeke was also unveiled.

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the Charlotte Maxeke Lecture: