Laurah Modise – South Africa

Laurah Modise – South Africa

Date: June 16, 2012
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After the final rush of campaigning for the March 2006 local elections ANC Councillor Laurah Modise is settling into her new role as ward councillor in Blekkiesdorp, part of the Sol Plaatjie local council in the Northern Cape province of South Africa.

She says that while there was no real resistance to her being a councillor, “there will always be some people who are opposed to me.” The previous councillor, a man, worked full time for De Beers (the diamond mining company), mostly night shifts, which meant he was not accessible most of the time.

Modise sharpened her skills for her current job by serving as a member of the ward committee under her predecessor. The ANC scouted her out as a possible ward councillor as it sought to boost women’s participation in the 2006 elections. She won the party primaries against her predecessor. Six women and men contested the constituency seat in the 2006 elections, which she won.

A volunteer for the last 15 years, Modise is driven by “the passion to work with people and to do community work…I see to the basic needs of the community such as housing, water and electricity. I have to attend all council meetings and then report back to the community on what happened.

“I have fortnightly meetings with the ward committee members and community meetings every second month and whenever something urgent comes up send out flyers for people to attend an urgent meeting even if one had been held recently.

“Urgent issues would include when a crime has been committed or when the community is complaining about taverns. I have also been trying to deal with the people who have to live in shacks so that they can get houses, and I took it to council and then the Mayor didn’t give me enough time to address it at the usual meeting so I had to call an urgent meeting with the community because I wanted it to go through because I want these people to get houses. They need to get ownership of the places that they are living in.

“It is very important for us (as women councillors) to educate our women and we need to encourage our women to join women’s organisations where they can meet with other women and interact with them and know what they are doing, it is an eye opener.

“I think that if women are educated and join organisations they will hear what other women have to say and how other women live. This is something that I want to do. I must meet with all of the women and we must sit down and discuss what we can do as women to change our ward into a better ward to be an example to others, to stop crime, to see that our children go to school.”


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