The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation (AKF) is saddened to hear of the passing of Dr Frene
Ginwala, a giant in the struggle for freedom and one who distinguished herself as the first
Speaker of Parliament in a democratic society.
Frene Ginwala was a polymath – she studied and worked as a lawyer, historian and
journalist; and played a significant role in the liberation struggle in exile in Africa and the UK.
Dr Ginwala was a formidable historian. Her PhD was a seminal study on Indian political
resistance from the arrival of indentured labourers through to the end of the Second World
As chairperson of the ANC Archives Committee in the 1990s and early 2000s, Ginwala
ensured that the ANC’s documentation from all its offices during exile were repatriated to
South Africa, catalogued and safely deposited at the University of Fort Hare.
As the founding Speaker of Parliament in 1994, Ginwala inherited an institution steeped in
the apartheid past. Under her stewardship, Parliament became the lifeblood of the new
democracy, transforming itself and passing legislation aimed at building a non-racial,
non-sexist democratic society.
“Dr Ginawala will be remembered as one who clearly understood the idea that checks and
balances between the executive and the legislature are essential for a young democracy. As
Speaker, she asserted the right of Parliament to hold Cabinet to account for its actions,” said
Neeshan Balton, Executive Director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.
As the first woman Speaker, she led the way in advancing the participation of women in
government, business and civil society.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation pays tribute to an ardent revolutionary, erudite historian
and archivist, illustrious presiding officer and determined feminist.
May she rest in peace.



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South Africa


In pursuing its core objective
of deepening non-racialism,
the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation

Promote the values, rights
and principles enshrined in the
Freedom Charter and the
Constitution of the
Republic of South Africa;

Collect, record, promote and
display, through historical
artefacts and contemporary


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