In this episode of Phenomenal Woman, we join Sebenzile Matsebula an entrepreneur and a businesswoman as well as a Social Activist for Justice. She is also a mother of two amazing young men aged 28 and 25 years. Sebenzile Matsebula is the Executive Director of Motswako Office Solutions. Sebenzile Matsebula’s idea is that disability is not inability and she has the passion and drive to prove it. Having being paralyzed from an infant stage in her life Sebenzile Matsebula has defied all the odds and has established herself in becoming a very successful entrepreneur and humanitarian. She has served in the highest office in South Africa for former President, Thabo Mbeki as director of the Presidency. She was then nominated as part of the committee of the united nation of persons with disability in the year 2012; currently, she serves as an executive in Motswako Office Solutions Pty.
Sebenzile Matsebula states from an excerpt of her story which was shared in a conference she had in Hagen
“I contracted polio at the age of ten months, when I was in the eastern part of South Africa, I lived through the era of disempowerment as a black African, as a female and a disabled person, therefore I can relate to the discrimination, generalization, and disempowerment”
One of the major challenges living with the disability that Sebenzile Matsebula had was majorly “centred around stereotypes and negative perceptions due to the fact that many people have the perception that if you have a disability you can’t do a lot of things, you are limited in getting around and thinking for yourself and you are always relying on somebody. Mainly just the stereotypes and negative attitudes, also with gaining access in terms of steps and moving around was also a bit of a challenge, these are just practical things that just become really difficult, but I used that opportunity to get to where I am.”
Sebenzile Matsebula, started her career in 1997 during the time Nelson Mandela was still the president and in 1999 she moved into the presidency under Thabo Mbeki. Her role was to ensure that disability was mainstreamed and became part and parcel of every policy that the government develops. The first major document that she did was the “White paper” which then transformed the whole landscape of disability in the country; it implied that disability is part and parcel of every aspect of society. Later on she went on to participate in the UN because South Africa was one of the first countries that promoted the development of a convention to promote the rights of disabled persons. She spent from 2002 to 2006 working on this project, and in 2006 the convention was ratified by many governments including South Africa. This then became a document that made all government address issues of disability.
Sebenzile Matsebula served on the presidency advisory council, she served on the board of the Quanta Investment Holdings, and she was also involved in Cheshire Homes SA and Divuseni, (Divuseni is a Venda word meaning ‘Lift Yourselves Up’) a unique company; founded by disabled women who have already achieved success in their respective careers, and many more.
Her motivation for other is that people need to tell themselves that they should be in it because they want to be in it, not because somebody else is forcing your hands into it. Understand that people are compassionate and very assisting, so you will have people that will work with you, don’t let your disability make you sloppy. What inspired Sebenzile Matsebula is the fact that she was never thought she was different she never thought she could not do certain things as a disabled person.