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LIMPOPO NELSON MANDELA LECTURE, 10 JULY 2012

President Jacob Zuma delivers the Lecture

Departure for Vhembe
A colleague and I left Polokwane some two hours before midday to beat the scheduled midday deadline for accreditation. We were in good spirits and spoke in animated tones all the way to Thohoyandou in the Vhembe district of the Limpopo province.

There was no way we couldn’t be excited. This was the day President Jacob Zuma was to deliver the Centinnial Commemorative Lecture on Nelson Mandela. Only 4,000 places were available at the venue of the lecture, Worship House Church Centre in the Shayandima Township, Thohoyandou. My colleague and I fell among the luck 4,000 – hence our uncontrollable excitement.

The Media was equally excited, and had for almost a month hedged bets that President Jacob Zuma would not enter his no go area of Limpopo. The ANC Youth League in the province added fuel to these rumours of possible annarchy by hosting their expelled president Julius Malema and making beligerent statements against President Zuma.

Accreditation

On arrival in Thohoyandou, we reported to the Accreditation Centre for screening and issuance of the tags and the wristbands coloured to suit your category of guests. Without both the tag and the band entry to the venue of the lecture would be denied.

Security was tight at the centre too. Our accreditation as special guests went smoothly. Two hours remained before the lecture. We resorted to go for a bite before leaving for the lecture.

At The Venue

At the venue security was even tighter with the police, MK veterans and ANC Marshalls complementing one another to ensure that guests are safe and secure. There was lso a razor-wire belt around the church centre.

Thanks to our tags, arm-bands and early arrival, our entrance was with ease and without incident. We were ushered to prime seats not far from the exquisitely decorated stage. This gave me a good vantage point to take photographs as I had brought along a  to immortalise the day.
Confrontation

Over time the massive arena-like hall started to fill up as guests started to arrive. There was however concern that accreditation was slow and would see many still being processed when the lecture starts.

Whilst waiting for President Jacob Zuma and other leaders, the Church Choir and Band kept us entertained.

It was in the midst of the musical interludes that the ANC Youth League provincial secretary Jacob Lebogo walked in with his provincial chairperson Rudzani Ludere and Jossi Butane. They arrogantly made the rolling hands gesture of change in leadership. Lebogo was joined by Ludere and Bhutane in these provocative gestures. Their dance and song didn’t go very far as the Umkhonto-we-Sizwe Veterans Association (MKVA) were soon on them boots and all.

In this melee pepper spray was released, throwing everyone  within inhaling distance to cough and have itchy eyes.

Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture

It was after an hour that the President of the ANC and the Republic of South Africa took to the podium to deliver a moving lecture that put the icon of the country’s struggle for freedom, Nelson Mandela, into the context of the struggle for liberation in the country and elsewhere in the world.

I was mightily enriched and motivated when I left the venue at the end of the lecture.

He Touched My Life

Muthundinne George Phadagi

This past month we laid to rest the mortal remains of George Muthundinne Phadagi. He died after a short illness. At the time of his death, Phadagi had been appointed a Special Advisor to Limpopo Premier, Mr Cassel Mathale.

Before his appointment as Special Advisor to the Premier, Phadagi had been MEC for Safety, Security and Liaison after his “redeployment” from the Public Works portfolio. He had come into the Limpopo Executive Council via his appointment as the MEC for Public Works in 1999.

Soon after his appointment as MEC for Public Works, he called for me to work in his support office.

The call was on the strength of our longstanding relationship and my knowledge and experience in the realm of media and communications. I didn’t wait for a second invitation before I could take the offer.

I went thorugh all the due processes until my appointment four months after his.

My duties as the Media Liaison Officer went way beyond the the job purpose, to render media liaison services for the MEC.  It also entailed writing speeches for him and accompanying him on official duties.

Outside the realm of work, Oom George as I called him revived his newspaper, The Valley Messenger. He made me a key editorial player responsible for the coverage of the acrimonious politics of the ANC in the province. Over time the newspaper gained acceptance from the people of Limpopo and became their reliable and credible medium for news on the ANC and government.

Added to my specialist editorial responsiblities I had a weekly column which sought to have the province talking by raising topical issues of the day. There were also infrequent reviews of interesting books which were relevant to the readers of the newspapers and the people of the province in general.

Through the paper I was forced to produce editorial copy weekly and also had to read extensively. An amount of discipline was imposed on me to be able to juggle with my day job, the newspaper and still be able to sample the Polokwane evening life and home in Tzaneen over my rare free weekends.

Most importantly the newspaper gave me a weekly platform to hone my writing skills. Over time I could see my writing developing wings to soar as high as it could.

It is in my reading and writing that I’ll forever be indebted to the late Oom George. As I read and write memories of him come flooding back. I expect to hear his soft voice lazily taking me through an angle he wished a particular story to take.

At the time of his passing away I was becoming more involved in shaping the future direction of the newspaper. We had shared many ideas on how to grow its circulation.

Then death struck. He is no more. Sadly, the newspaper is gone too, sacrificed by family strife.

Here am I though – the embodiment of his love for the word. In me the word leaves on.

 

 

RIP CDE MUTHUNDINNE GEORGE PHADAGI

Cde Muthundinne George Phadagi, formerly the MEC for Public Works and Safety, Security and Liaison, is no more. Death claimed him on the Sunday morning of 13 May 2012 at a Pretoria medical facility after a short illness.

He leaves behind a sea of tears shed by those whose lives he had touched in a long and illustrious life. How he had touched many lives is borne by the many tributes that have flooded in after the official announcement of his death.

At the time of his death Phadagi had just been appointed the Special Advisor in the office of Limpopo Premier, Cassel Mathale. Before this appointment he had been recalled from the legislature and the executive council.

He will be buried on 19 May 2012 at his ancestral village of Tswinga, Thohoyandou, Vhembe district.

May His Soul Rest In Peace.

 

ANC AT THE CROSS-ROAD

September 1, 2011 Leave a comment

The ANC has finally done what many will argue it should have been done so many years ago – rein in its youth league. The ANC Youth League, in particular its president Julius Malema has been going about like he is untouchable and therefore can run away with quite anything.

The latitude he had enjoyed made him to live without limits – test the part systems and structures to the limit to a point of attaching election to the ANC nationa executive committee to endorsement of the league call for nationalisation and apropriation without compensation. Those who dared to call for the opening up of the debate economic transformation like Ministers of Mining and Public Enterprise, Susan Shabangu and Malusi Gigaba respectively.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the ANC Youth League call for a regime change in neighbouring Botswana. This threw the government’s relationship with Botswana and other countries into disarray. The South African government was cast as a dog that was being wagged by its tail.

To stem the tide of degeneration the ANC officials laid charges against the league president Julius Malema and spokesperson Floyd Shivambu. The charges were later extended to the rest of the YL officials. In an about turn aimed at escaping censure, the league called for a political settllement. The ANC was more than willing to engage with its youth wing on an issue except the dropping of the charges.

On the eve of the disciplinary hearing of Malema and Shivambu, league members were bussed into Johannesburg to hold a vigil in support of the accused. The following saw attempts at storming the ANC headquaters. Police and journalists were attacked – so were the hawkers goods destroyed.

All sane South Africans condemned the YL sponsored violence in the vicinity of Luthuli House.

The eyes of the world are on the ANC – will the ANC restore order and respectability within its ranks or will it bring back an even more re-loaded Malema to wreak havoc in the count. The coming few days will settle this once and for all.

Blade Is Sorry!

September 10, 2009 1 comment
Zapiro on the bourgeoisification of Comrade Blade

Zapiro on the bourgeoisification of Comrade Blade

The South African Communist Party chief, Dr Blade Nzimande, has at last bowed to popular outrage at his purchase of a R1,1 million car for use in his capacity as Minister of Higher Education.

Comrade Blade has however not gone the whole way by surrendering the vulgar pair of wheels for something more working class as would be dictated by his sense of communist morality. Afterall his allies, Congress of South African Trade Unions had issued a plea to all ministers of bling to surrender their expensive toys.

Nzimande`s half-apology flies in the face of earlier statements by the SACP and the Ministry of  Higher Education which had found no moral fault with the comrade`s purchase of luxury wheels. Ironically this purchase was brought to the public domain by the party of monopoly capital, the Democratic Alliance.

The expose` by the DA raised serious moral questions on those who puport to be custodians of the interests and aspirations of the working class.   No wonder the media and other public commentators have come to correctly charecterised these opportunists who dupe the poor as gucci socialists whose true colours continue to be exposed on a daily basis.

Another take on Cde Blade

Another take on Cde Blade

As for COSATU, the trade union federation got stuck on the starting-block in speaking out against Nzimande`s un-communist pair of wheels. It instead sneaked its condemnation through the back door of public outrage of such a vulgarity.

The jury is still out on the Cabinet decision to review the tendency by its members to go overboard in spending public monies.

What is tragic about the excesses of the likes of Comrade Blade is that it occurs under the shadow of a global economic crisis which has badly affected the poor who constitute his core constituency. It was therefore expected that these leaders of the working class will manifest a concience in how they spend public funds for their personal comforts.

It now remains to be seen whether Cabinet will put a lead on this wholesale looting of the public purse.

Thabo Made Us Do It

September 7, 2009 2 comments
Former President Thabo Mbeki

Former President Thabo Mbeki

For the functionaries of the new regime under President Jacob Zuma, everything that goes wrong in the country gets blamed on former President Thabo Mbeki.

It all started with  Mbeki being written out of history by those who took control of the party machinery after the watershed ANC national conference held in 2007 in polokwane, Limpopo province.

After his election as President of the Republic of South Africa Jacob Zuma neglected to mention Mbeki in his acceptance speech. It was only at his inaugration as the fourth President of the Republic of South Africa that Zuma acknowldged and spoke in glowing terms of Mbeki.

In this address Zuma had the following to say about Mbeki:

“In June 1999, former President Thabo Mbeki came to this podium to take the oath of office, as the second President of the Republic. He took the country forward as true statesman.

“He made a remarkable contribution towards strengthening democracy, and laid a firm foundation for economic growth and development.

“He made our contry an integral part of the continent and worked tirelessly for an African rebirth. Through his leadership, South Africa`s stature grew in the continet and globally.

President Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Zuma

In his last address as Head of State in September last year, he demonstrated his patriotism, and put the interests of the country above his personal interests.

Thank you Zizi for demonstrating a charecter that the ANC had always embodied since 1912.”

Of late former President Mbeki has once more come under heavy attack from the organisation that he has served with unmatched distinction over many years.

The first salvo in recent times was fired by Minister of Human Settlements, Tokyo Sexwale, who blamed the recent spate of service delivery riots on the past administration of Mbeki.

Then there was little Julius Malema himself. In his most recent public outburst, Malema said Mbeki had taught young people bad manners and should therefore be taken to court for having violated the rights of women.

The ANC has conveniently remained quite about these attacks like it did in the past. This is obviously a cause for real concern when an organisation such as the ANC can allow one of its own to be violated such as former President Mbeki has been.