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SACP lowers the red flag from the summit to half-mast: Tribute to Comrade Joyce Mashamba, the woman of steel

22 June 2018

On Wednesday, 20 June 2018 the South African Communist Party (SACP) was confronted with the sad news that the Party`s long standing activist, Central Committee member for over a decade since 2007, and a stalwart of our struggle for liberation and social emancipation, Comrade Joyce Mashamba (67), has ceased to breathe. The following day, Thursday 21 June 2018 the SACP publicly announced this great loss that the Party, its Alliance partners and the working class in general and the entire bereaved family of Mashamba in particular have suffered.

Our hearts go out to Comrade George Mashamba, her husband, himself our Party`s long standing activist and Central Committee member, to the entire Mashamba family, relatives and friends. The SACP will in due course, after consultation with the family and relevant authorities, publicly announce the memorial and funeral service details of our departed leader.

Cde Joyce Mashamba was one of our liberation struggle`s resilient cadres, a revolutionary to the end. She was well-capacitated and advanced, both politically and professionally, and was loyal to and dedicated her life to serving the people. This was consistent with her revolutionary values as a Communist.

Cde Joyce was born on 25 September 1950.

Education and struggle at the same time

She attended school and completed her secondary education in 1975, a year in which she obtained her matriculation certificate. She furthered her education with the University of South Africa and obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1982, and in 1990 a BA (Honours) in Philosophy. The same year she completed a management certificate programme at the University of the Witwatersrand. Thereafter she attended a training programme in Research on Education in South Africa at Essex University in the United Kingdom, under Dr Elain Unterhalter and Professor Harold Wolpe. She completed the programme in 1991.

Between 1992 and 1993 she completed a Master Degree course work in intercultural management and communication at the School for International Training in Battleboro, Vermont in the United States, specialising in development administration. In 2013 she completed an advanced certificate in governance and public leadership.

Cde Joyce left a good education and professional development example for the youth to draw inspiration from. In particular, she was furthering her education and professional development while at the same time she had to work and was actively involved in the struggle for the defeat and outlawry of the apartheid regime.

The struggle and leadership roles

Cde Joyce was not spared from repression by the apartheid regime during the struggle. She was arrested and imprisoned. Her husband, Cde George, suffered the same fate. This did not deter either of them. They remained resilient and resolute. The Mashamba family is one of the families that made an immense contribution to and enormous sacrifices for the struggle for our freedom.

Cde Joyce joined the Mankweng community in 1969 at the height of student activism at the then University of the North. The formation of the South African Student Organisation in 1969; the student strikes of the early 1970s, highlighted among others by the expulsion of Abram Tiro and his subsequent assassination in Botswana; pro-Frelimo rallies; the hosting of Africa Arts Weeks and the incessant police harassment of the student population on campus, coupled with rampant racism, greatly shaped and influenced her political consciousness.

The situation contributed to her consolidation of her resoluteness in the struggle to end apartheid, capitalist exploitation and imperialism. Cde Joyce became a founder member of the Mankweng Civic Association and served in its first executive committee. This was one of the many civic associations that emerged in the course of our liberation movement`s intensification of mass mobilisation to overthrow the apartheid regime. The Mankweng Civic Association was therefore formed in the course of our development of our mass democratic movement. The South African National Civics Organisation, which was founded as a unitary organisation in 1992, replaced all pre-existing local and regional civic formations associated with the development of our mass democratic and progressive civic movements.

A gender activist unquestionably committed to bringing patriarchy - male domination of females - to an end, Cde Joyce became the National Organiser of Federation of Transvaal Women in 1985. In 1991 she was elected the Chairperson of African National Congress Women`s League for the then Northern Transvaal Region and in 1992 its Deputy Chairperson. In 1999 she was elected to the National Executive Committee of the ANCWL and was re-elected in 2003 and 2008. She discharged her activist and leadership responsibilities for the emancipation of women with distinction. This was not easy, but she proved to be resilient through and though in the face of many challenges.

In 1998 Cde Joyce was elected to serve in the ANC Limpopo Provincial Executive Committee. Again she stayed the course of resilient leadership.

Service to the people through our democratically elected government

In 1994 Cde Joyce was elected to the National Assembly and served as an ANC MP until 1997. She held a number of positions in the Limpopo Provincial legislature and government through which she continued her dedication to serve the people.

From 1999 to 2000 she served as a member of the Limpopo Provincial Legislature. From 2000 to 2001 she served as the MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture; from 2001 to 2004 as the MEC for Education; from 2004 to 2006 as the MEC for Finance; from 2006 to 2012 again as the MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture; from 2012 to 2013 as the Deputy Speaker of the legislature; from 2013 to 2014 as the MEC for Safety, Security and Liaison; from 2014 to 2017 as the MEC for Social Development. At the time of her death on 20 June 2018 she was the MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, a position of responsibility she steered since 2017.

Professional engagements and occupations

In 1976 Cde Joyce assumed the responsibility of Assistant Librarian at the University of Limpopo, then University of the North. From 1982 to 1985 she served as the Development Officer at the South African Council of Churches. She worked as Housekeeper, Barnato Hall Residence at the University of the Witwatersrand from 1989 to 1990. From 1990 to 1991 she worked as Bursary Consultant, World University Services and from 1991 to 1994 as Assistant Registrar, Financial Aid Office, University of Limpopo, then the University of the North. From 1997 to 1999 she was the CEO of the Northern Training Trust.

MEC Mashamba was a renowned Public Speaker and Motivator. She has addressed numerous gatherings right across the length and breadth of our country.


Cde Joyce is survived by her husband, a stalwart of our liberation struggle, Cde George Mashamba, three sons, one daughter and seven grandchildren.

In memory of Cde Joyce

The SACP reiterates its call for the development of our country`s progressive women`s movement to be deepened.

The Party will intensify its programme to develop itself to become and act as an ever deepening vanguard of the working class.

The SACP, our Alliance and the working class must advance and intensify the second radical phase of the national democratic revolution to end the system of capitalist exploitation, radically reduce and eventually eliminate all forms of class inequality - including class and gender inequalities, uneven development and distribution of resources between rural and urban areas and between developed and underdeveloped human settlements in urban areas.

The SACP says: Hamba Kahle Mkhonto!



Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo:
Head of Communications & National Spokesperson
Mobile: +27 76 316 9816
Skype: MashiloAM


Hlengiwe Nkonyane:
Communications Officer - Media Liaison Services, Digital and Social Media Co-ordinator
Mobile: +27 79 384 6550


Office: +2711 339 3621/2
Twitter: SACP1921
Website: www.sacp.org.za
Facebook Page: South African Communist Party
SACP Ustream TV Channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/sacp-tv