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International Solidarity with Eastern Cape

by HRH Stella Sigcau and Kirtan Bhana

29 May 2020


Vietnam has recorded no deaths from Covid-19 since its outbreak in neighbouring China.  This South Asian country has had only 327 cases and almost half were that of foreigners entering the country.

Photo: (back to front left side of table) Mr. Trinh Ngoc Dai - Defence Attache, Ambassador Hoang Van Loi, Pham Thanh Chuong - First Secretary, Dao Manh Duc - Head of Trade Office
(right side of table l-r) Senior Manager for Planning and Development Ms Nobahle Mafumbatha, Mayor of Mbizana Councillor Daniswa Mafumbatha and Mr Clive Noconjo Manager Mayoralty and Executive Support (VNA)

In contrast, South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province has over 3000 cases and 77 deaths. This is one of the reasons that the Mayor of Mbizana Local Municipality, Councillor Daniswa Mafumbatha, reached out to the Vietnamese Ambassador to South Africa, Mr Hoang Van Loi, to assist her office in their initiatives in containing the spread of the virus through sharing of Vietnamese success story in containing the viral pandemic.

With a population of 97million people, Vietnam has had experience in responding to such outbreaks including SARS and MERS. The social distancing policy as well as strategic testing, contact tracing and effective communication campaigns to keep its citizens informed, was carried out.

Monitoring their borders, screening visitors and mandatory quarantine protocols were implemented as the country was one of the first to engage and interact with the World Health Organization and the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC).  Using NCOVI, an ITC application, the public was able to upload their health status and share ‘hotspots’ of new cases and regular updates on best practices.
Mayor Mafumbatha was accompanied by the Senior Manager for Planning and Development, Ms Nobahle Mafumbatha and Mr Clive Noconjo Manager, Mayoralty and Executive Support. The bilateral talks between the delegations expressed the need to share and exchange ideas and information and develop formal relations through the relevant diplomatic channels. The Mayor extended an invitation to the Ambassador of Vietnam and officials to visit Mbizana after the lockdown to also explore investment opportunities and strategic partnerships. Establishing a twinning agreement with a municipality in Vietnam was also put on the table as areas of corporation in agriculture and agro processing, manufacturing, skills development and knowledge exchange were discussed. A study visit to experience Vietnam’s successes was also proposed.

Mbizana is the birthplace of Winnie Madikizela Mandela who kept the struggle for freedom in South Africa alive and bore the brunt of the criminal apartheid regime. Oliver Tambo was also born in Mbizana, and he had to flee South Africa and fought to free his fellow South Africans in exile.

The Vietnam Embassy and the Vietnamese Association of Women handed over donations of protective equipment (PPE), masks and food products to the delegation at the Embassy precinct in Pretoria. South African poet Jessica Mbangeni who hails from the Eastern Cape narrated a poem of solidarity during the ceremony.


Photo: Ms Verena Gauthier being interviewed

Lwandlolubomvu Traditional Council head Nkosi Jongilanga Sigcau and his sister Princess Stella Sigcau II reached out to Impulse, a Swiss based NGO as Ntabankulu is declared a Covid- 19 hotspot, to assist the Royal family and Council in fighting the spread of the virus.

The CEO of Impulse, Ms Verena Gauthier, has pledged support through the donation of food packages which will be distributed to some of the affected families in the villages. A partnership between Lwandlolubomvu and Impulse dates back to 2004 when Nkosi Jongilanga Sigcau visited Switzerland to attend the 10 years celebrations of South African independence hosted by the South African Embassy. The partnership led to an MOU being signed on youth and cultural development and various projects taking place including workshops on child abuse. Swiss artists and choirs performing during the cultural events in Lwandlolubomvu and Lwandlolubomvu artists and choir travelled to Switzerland as Culture Ambassadors as some of the exchanges that took place arising from the MOU.

For distribution of donations the elderly, disabled, child headed families will be prioritised. The reusable masks sewed and donated by Princess Stella Sigcau will be handed over to community members. The Princess has been active in raising awareness around Covid-19 and made donations of safety kits which include masks, sanitizers, gloves and hand soaps to communities, traditional councils and municipalities. She has raised funds for donation of food packages to communities in various parts of the Mpondo Kingdom as well as infrared thermometers for Traditional Councils. She is the recipient of the prestigious Impulse International Award as well as LIRA Award for the outstanding work she has been doing to uplift communities.

Traditional leaders in Solidarity with Local Government

Photo: Princess Sheila Sigcau and Princess Stella Sigcau II

South African Royal Princesses have heeded the call by government to play a part in the fight against the spread of the Corona virus. The Princesses had already planned the launch of the Progressive Alliance of Royal Princesses of South Africa which was scheduled to take place at Nqadu Great Place in the Eastern Cape on 21 March 2020. The launch had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. They however continue to play an active role in their communities and are supporting government’s efforts to combat and contain the spread of the virus.

Princess Sheila Sigcau of the Xhosa Kingdom in the Eastern Cape, Princess Gaboilelwe  Moroka of Moroka Chieftaincy in the Free State and Princess Stella Sigcau II of the Mpondo Kingdom in the Eastern Cape, who are the members of the Progressive Alliance of Royal Princesses of South Africa and senior members of their relative Royal Councils are some of the princesses who are playing an active role. They have reached out to various stakeholders supporting the Traditional Councils they come from and assisting their communities. As Royal Princesses they also have a moral mandate to play a significant role at times like these as members of the Royal Councils and as responsible citizens of South Africa.

The global crisis has necessitated a collective effort of all, including traditional leaders and institutions, notably the Houses of Traditional Leaders, Contralesa, Imbumba yamakhosikazi akomkhulu and Alliances of Royal Princesses.

Princess Gaboilelwe Moroka founder of the Gabo Foundation from Thaba Nchu in the Free State has been raising funds to buy groceries to donate to the affected families in her area during lockdown, working with various stakeholders. This includes elders and youth. In Princess Moroka's words “The reason for issuing groceries is because of the dire need in the face of the pandemic and the measures that have been enforced (the lockdowns) that have added on to the already existing challenge of the high unemployment rate. Children are not going to school, which means more consumption in a family that has no or little income under normal circumstances”. Some of the projects she worked on include child pregnancy which led to her receiving the United Nations Award. She is also the Executive member of the National House of Traditional Leaders focusing amongst others on gender issues. She also started an advocacy campaign with Afriforum to break barriers and promote unity and agriculture. Founder of the South African Kangaroo Campaign, Princess Gabo has been active in the kangaroo wraps and beanies for newborn babies donated to mothers.

Princess Stella Sigcau II from the Mpondo Kingdom, is also working on donations of safety kits e.g. masks, gloves, soaps, sanitizers to some of the traditional councils in the Mpondo Kingdom. Donations have been made to Lwandlolubomvu and Manci Traditional Councils to contribute to their initiatives in fighting this virus.  Her efforts also include donations of safety kits to community members; sensitizing and in educating about the virus and prevention. She together with the Lwandlolubomvu Royal family contributed by donating food, beverages and safety kits to municipalities in their areas notably Ntabankulu, Mbizana  Local Municipalities and Alfred Nzo District Municipality assisting the Mayoral initiatives in fighting this virus.  She is also supporting the Ndlunkulu of Lwandlolubomvu initiative of making reusable fabric masks through donations of relevant fabric material. Princess Stella Sigcau II is the cofounder and director of Mpondo Culture and Heritage Festival; Mpondo Reed Dance and Lwandlolubomvu Rural Development Initiative which initiated many successful projects on youth, skills development, sports and culture leading to her receiving Impulse Switzerland International Award from the Impulse Foundation which is the Switzerland based NGO and Lira (Let it rain Association) Award, a local Award. A diplomat by profession Princess Stella Sigcau II has served her country in the diplomatic missions in Thailand, Botswana and the Republic of Congo.

Princess Sheila Sigcau of the Xhosa Kingdom in the Eastern Cape has been involved in various projects initiated at Nqadu Great Place including the King Hintsa lecturers and sports and cultural activities in her area. She has been working with a cooperative that promotes Xhosa Culture through bearding and sewing traditional clothes. This saw some of its members going to China for training. She is currently together with the cooperative making masks at Nqadu Great Place as an effort to combat the spread of this virus. She has previously worked in various government departments where she excelled as a public servant.




February/March 2020


















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