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By Devina Haripersad

Senior Business/Finance journalist


‘There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help women’ – Mlambo-Ngcuka

The former deputy president implored women of today to think differently when it comes to helping each other.


Former Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has admonished women who refuse to help their fellow women in their country, stating “there is a special place in hell” for them.

She was speaking at the KFC Women on the Move brunch gathering, which was attended by scores of professional women from various industries.

KFC hosted the women’s celebration brunch with the aim of promoting inclusivity within the quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry in Africa.

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How big is your table?

The theme of the event was “How big is your table?“, asking women at the top the question of whether they are sending the ladder back down to help other women.

Mlambo-Ngcuka shared her journey to deputy presidency with those present and the struggles she faced during this time.

The former deputy president on the podium. Image: Devina Haripersad.

“Women of my generation made some wrong decisions. They did not engage men and hold them to account. Fortunately, things are changing. Things are being done differently now,” she said.

She said this could mostly be accredited to the notion of sisterhood amongst South African women.

“Just being in this room, networking – this is what helps us as women,” she said.

She went on to describe those who clawed their way to the top and then, because they struggled, refused to help those who were working their way up as well.

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Send the ladder

The former official, who held her position at the top of government for more than three years, implored women of today to not fall into this trap but rather send the ladder back down.

She noted that sending the ladder back down was the very core intention of the event, which sought to recognise and honour industry leaders and pioneers who have made significant contributions to creating opportunities for women in their respective fields.

“We cannot rely on Government alone to move the agenda for women – we need women organisations, civil society and the private sector.

“I commend KFC for the strides they are making in this space, raising the bar when it comes to driving inclusivity and making room at the table. Businesses can’t just be donors – they have a stake in this, and they need to be active participants,” she said.

In 2021, Mlambo-Ngcuka received the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Goalkeeper Award for fighting for gender equality and her continued advocacy in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women and girls.

Many women have placed their hope in Mlambo-Ngcuka as the most worthy candidate to step forward as SA’s first ever female president.

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