Thokozile Phumzile Mabaso
Name: Thokozile Phumzile Mabaso
Status: Single, but have a very special relationship.
Do you have any children: One – a son.
Profile on Career Path
In 1998 I joined the KZN Transport Department as a student intern in the
Transportation section. Here was where my career took another exciting turn for
the good. Supported by bosses who did not suffer from any
"insecurities", it was a great opportunity to learn fast.
Transportation, all over the world over is still stereotyped as a male career. I
broke that stereotype by completing a KZN Rural Mobility Study (travel patterns)
within a year. The KZN Rural Mobility Study was adopted nationally and
internationally by the International Forum for Rural Transport and Development.
This study continues to be quoted and used extensively in many transportation
forums. It also played an immeasurable role in shaping some of the legislations
on this sector. In 1999 I became an Assistant Director in Transportation. Within
a year (September 2000) I was promoted to Director in Road Safety, where I am to
date. It is a very challenging, exciting and a very dynamic environment –
"very male dominated too!"
What is your Job Description?
To manage implemented road safety strategies and programmes. To manage
budgets attached to individual programmes. Oversee the implementation of
programmes. Participate in both national and inter-provincial planning,
implementation and monitoring of road safety programmes. Oversee establishment
and maintenance of Community and Urban Road Safety Councils. To evaluate road
safety strategies and make necessary adjustments to ensure maximum road safety
exposure and benefits.
What Challenges do you face in your career?
I have a natural passion to save peoples lives. It was for this reason that I
pursued a career in the Department of Transport, of which I am the Director for
Road Safety. The greatest challenge facing me personally and it will remain so
for as long as there are so many deaths on our roads. Indeed it would be naVve
to think road crashes will stop completely. We all know that as long as there
are vehicles on the road incidents will occur, but I believe these can and
should be minimized – like in western countries. We in South Africa see a lot
of people killed on our roads, because road users do not respect other road
users or blatantly disregard road safety rules.
What are your goals?
It is my goal in life to save people’s lives on our roads. Even one life
saved makes a difference.
What motivates you?
I am motivated and inspired by all the opportunities our new democracy has
opened for all of us in South Africa. We have the best Constitution in the world
– that is motivation enough. What about the doors, which have opened and
continue to open for all of us previously disadvantaged or previously ignored
citizens? We have all realized that we each have a "ship" parked in
our names in the "harbour" of life. The challenge is to swim out to
there and take control of it, "sail" out to the open ocean of life.
South Africa is now a global player. We cannot afford to sit back and expect
things to be done for us. We have to take and face the challenge of doing things
for ourselves as individuals, groups and as a nation.
Policing and traffic enforcement took place mainly in "white"
areas, so townships and rural areas did not have the advantage of being forced
to comply with rules of the road. This led to a situation where drivers did not
learn to drive carefully, because there were no legal consequences for unsafe
behaviour, aside from the death of members of their own communities. We cannot
in the new South Africa accept this situation, and we are working hard to change
it, as we move through our transition into a truly democratic society.
How do you balance your family and work life?
I do this in a very structured way. There is a clear distinction between my
family life and my work life. I do not mix the two. If I allowed confusion
between the two, I would definitely have a major problem. I leave my cap and
everything that goes with it at work. Upon arrival at home I assume my position
as a mother to my 11 year old son, Abbey and my "husband" Fanyana
Shiburi. Gosh am I blessed to have both of them in my life!.
What message do you have for other women?
Use the help of people who surround you, for the fact that you know that the
working environment is not always women friendly, make them your support system.
Remember that no man is an island. Because we start at a disadvantage – as
society sets limits for women – go that extra mile but balance your
priorities. Accept that fact that we are biologically different to men, but can
basically take on any challenges that they can.
Our struggle against apartheid was a bitter one. Our struggle against gender
issues is even more difficult. For those women who have managed to make
remarkable strides in various fields, keep on rowing the boat. You are our icons
and we are looking up to you.
I also ask you to join hands and fight against road carnage and promote road
safety awareness, education, values and norms. Surely this is not too much to
Remember, the hallmark of a good road user is to be careful.