A Tribute by National Chairman, Fred Phaswana, at the annual National Council meeting on 17 March 2009
The South African Institute of International Affairs’ minute book records that Elisabeth Bradley was elected as a National Council member in 1982 from the Witwatersrand Branch. In fact she was not able to attend that particular meeting and nominated Gibson Thula as her proxy. She was however mentioned in dispatches as the convener of the Standing Conference Committee that was preparing for the Third International Outlook Conference organised by the Institute.
By 1986 as a leading member of Council and now Honorary Treasurer, Elisabeth reported on a particularly difficult recessionary period for the South African economy and its impact on SAIIA. She commented that SAIIA had handled this well and ended the 1984 financial year with an excess of income over expenditure of R836 and 1985 with a larger one of R1798.
Her leading role in turning SAIIA’s finances around was reflected in a vote of thanks from the
n Chairman, Harry Oppenheimer, in the 1988 Council meeting. Corporate
giving had risen by 22% over two years due to Elisabeth and her colleagues’ tireless efforts to recruit and retain corporate members. Better was yet to come when in 1990 she reported that corporate giving had increased some 60% over two years.
In that year the National Council appointed a high level working group on the ‘Future Role of SAIIA’ and Elisabeth was asked to chair it. Its report tabled at the 1992 Council meeting generated a great deal of debate and set the Institute on a stable course to face the new political context in the country.
Conrad Strauss, then National Chairman, paid tribute to Elisabeth in these words,
‘A special word of thanks is due to Elisabeth Bradley who chairs the National Administrative Committee and the Finance Committee, in addition to holding the vitally important post of Honorary Treasurer. During the past two years she also accepted the task of chairing the Working Group [on the Future Role of the Institute].’
The 1994 Council minutes reflect that Elisabeth handed over the role of Honorary Treasurer to Brian Hawksworth, a worthy successor.
In 1996 the National Council was delighted to learn that the Institute had recorded a surplus for the year – an unusual occurrence – as a result of a highly successful corporate membership campaign undertaken by Dr Strauss and Elisabeth Bradley. The members had been requested to make a three-year commitment at an increased level – and Elisabeth’s diplomacy and standing in the South African business community was clearly evident in the results.
At the same meeting the Chairman reported that the new Executive Committee that had replaced the old Administrative Committee was working extremely well. Needless to say it was chaired by Elisabeth who had brought the same dedication to this new body as to her previous running of the Administrative Committee.
In 1997 Council was delighted to elect Elisabeth as Deputy Chairman of the Institute, a position she has held to date. She has continued her critical role as Chairman of the Executive Committee and more recently as Chairman of the 75th Anniversary Campaign Steering Committee.
The Institute is indebted to Elisabeth for these decades of loyal service as a volunteer, at a time when she was also a leading businesswoman and served on the governing bodies of other non-governmental organisations and universities. She has never sought the limelight but has been an efficient worker behind the scenes to ensure the well being of SAIIA in general and its financial health in particular.
As Elisabeth retires from her active service to SAIIA, we will miss her. SAIIA will request her to receive Life Membership of the Institute and we hope she will continue to assist SAIIA in this transition phase until a new Executive Committee Chairman is in place. We are pleased that Elisabeth continues in the position of Chairperson of the Campaign Steering Committee.