UKZN Bestows Highest Honour on the Late Bavelile Gloria Hlongwa
The University of KwaZulu-Natal honoured the former Deputy Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy, the late Ms Bavelile Gloria Hlongwa, by awarding her a Doctor of Administration posthumously.
This significant gesture by the University was in recognition of Hlongwa’s outstanding contribution to the betterment of South African youth and women.
Hlongwa was an active alumnus of UKZN where she graduated with a BSc in Chemical Engineering. When she met her demise in 2019, she was reading for a Master of Public Administration (MPA) in the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance at UKZN.
From a young age, Hlongwa demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities; serving as the secretary of the Congress of South African Students while in high school and branch secretary of Ward 3 in Alexandra informal settlement where she lived. While pursuing her Engineering studies at UKZN, she was elected to the Student Representative Council (SRC) in 2004 and elected as the first female SRC President in 2009. She later served as Deputy President of the UKZN Convocation where she advocated for policies to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
In May 2017, she was appointed Executive Deputy Chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency Board; and in May 2019 was elected to South Africa’s National Assembly as Mineral Resources and Energy Deputy Minister.
Ms Lungisile Hlongwa, sister of the late Hlongwa, delivered the acceptance speech on behalf of the Hlongwa family, saying: ‘As a family, we are honoured to be receiving this remarkable recognition of BV’s commitment to academic excellence and service to humanity.’ She added that her late sister was a trailblazer who inspired many with her unwavering commitment to social justice and equality, she dedicated her life to serving her community and country.
Recalling her unshakable tenacity and forthrightness, Lungisile said: ‘Those who knew Comrade BV might argue that she was cut from the same cloth as the great and fearless forebears of the African National Congress such as Dr Charlotte Manye Maxeke, Gertrude Shope and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.’ She added that Hlongwa believed in the power of diversity and inclusivity, and was a role model to many, especially young women who she constantly encouraged to strive for excellence, be bold, and take up space.
Professor Fayth Ruffin, Honorary Professor of Public Governance at UKZN, who came to know Hlongwa well as a student in the MPA programme said: ‘The more we came to know her and the more that she constructively challenged us and our modes of operation, the more evident it became that BV was a strong force of love and light.’
Guests who witnessed the ceremony included members of the Hlongwa family; Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities; Ms Fikile Masiko, Member of the National Assembly of South Africa and Mr Fanle Sibisi, former UKZN Convocation President.
The late Hlongwa will be remembered as a champion of youth development, women empowerment and transformation.
Words: Hazel Langa
Photographs: UKZN Media and Independent Media