Anti-apartheid leader, prominent business leader and philanthropist Dr Mathews Phosa has scooped another top African accolade, just a month after he received the prestigious Excellence in Leadership award in Abuja, Nigeria. Dr Phosa made history when he became the first South African man to be presented with the AWLO 2016 African Man of the Year award by the highly-respected African Women in Leadership Organisation (AWLO).
He received the award in Washington DC, United States, at a gala dinner marking the end to the 8th edition of the African Women in Leadership Conference, which was held from the 17th to the 21st of August, 2016. Each year following the four-day conference, the AWLO recognises the achievements of women across Africa and seeks to honour, on an on-going basis, exceptional and exemplary leaders who have made a difference in their community and have had a positive impact on society in their various fields.
The AWLO conferred the 2016 African Man of the Year award on Dr Phosa in recognition of his tireless effort in showcasing and supporting the creativity of African women. The award also honoured his leadership qualities, which have helped in the development of men and women in Africa.
“I am extremely honoured to be the first man to be given this award by a glorious organisation like the AWLO, which advances women empowerment. All over the world, women have played a significant role in bringing about change and making the world a better place to live in.
“In my country of birth, South Africa, women played a big role in bringing the evil and racist system of apartheid to its knees. Today, we are enjoying the fruits of democracy due to the selfless and courageous deeds of our women. I dedicate this award to the women of Africa and the world,” said Dr Phosa.
Dr Phosa called on men to elevate the status of women and to dismantle gender stereotypes and patriarchal mindsets that restrict the participation of women in politics, business, and greater civil society.
“Economies that have high participation of women tend to do better than economies with low participation. This means that we need to do more to invest in the education and development of girl children, because they hold the key to unlocking our economies,” Dr Phosa said.
The presentation of the African Man of the Year award to Dr Phosa follows hot on the heels of his receipt of the prestigious Excellence in Leadership award, which was conferred on him at the African Achievers Awards (AAA) on the 15th of July, 2016 in Abuja, Nigeria. The African Achievers Awards are regarded as Africa’s version of the Nobel Prizes.
The Excellence in Leadership award was presented to Dr Phosa in recognition of his immense contribution to the transformation of the South African economy from a mainly white-controlled economy to an inclusive one. His exemplary leadership in politics and excellence in business has earned Dr Phosa respect and admiration the world over.
The African Women in Leadership Conference brings together women of excellence across Africa. It also provides a conducive platform for networking, solidarity, mentoring and cohesion amongst African women for self-development.
Dr Phosa was amongst the first four African National Congress leaders chosen to start the negotiation process with the apartheid government. His negotiation skills came to the fore when they played a key role in the process of establishing a peaceful political transition in South Africa from apartheid to democracy.
After the first democratic elections in 1994, Dr Phosa was appointed by South Africa’s first black President, Nelson Mandela, as the first Premier of Mpumalanga, one of the nine newly-established provinces in the country. He held the Premiership of Mpumalanga until 1999 after which he became a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC.
At the ANC’s 52nd National Conference in 2007 in Polokwane, Limpopo Province, Dr Phosa was elected Treasurer General, a position he held until in 2012.