A man of many talents
Andile Nkuhlu was born in Nobatana, KwaZakhele township, in the Eastern Cape and shared a special bond with his twin brother and best friend, Ayanda. He was the son of wellknown businessman Wiseman Nkuhlu, and his upbringing was founded on the prudent and solid family values of ubuntu.
The twins soon showed signs of intellectual prowess and quickly moved through grades at school with their outstanding performances. They even skipped writing final exams in some of their grades.
The two inherited this educational mobility from the family legacy of those who had walked the journey before them and left their indelible imprints because quality education was, and remains, the foundation of the family.
After matriculating at St Luke’s in Johannesburg, the twins enrolled at the University of the Western Cape. Both obtained under- and postgraduate qualifications, with majors in economics and business – they studied in the same class from the beginning of school until their university graduation.
Andile served in different positions in the student movement, including being the provincial chairperson of the SA Students’ Congress in the Western Cape and a member of the national executive committee by virtue of his position.
He later joined the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) and served as a disciplined cadre for years, making it into the highest levels. He also served in the ANC’s provincial executive committee in the Eastern Cape.
For nine years since 1996, Nkuhlu was a chief director in the public enterprises department and was responsible for driving policy regime change, restructuring and repositioning the department and that of forestry in the country.
Described as a rare breed and a businessman of note, Nkuhlu had a business acumen, insightful mind and an eagle eye for a business opportunity. He mostly made prudent business judgements and choices even if there was a danger of being unpopular or a potential for disagreements with business partners.
His life was not without political controversy. In 2002, a consortium that had been awarded a state forestry contract saw it being cancelled after it emerged that Nkuhlu had accepted payments from the Zama Forestry Consortium. The payments were made via Lembede Investment Holdings, an investment vehicle of the ANCYL.
Nkuhlu and other former youth league bosses were instrumental in getting the now late mining magnate Brett Kebble to be the ANCYL’s benefactor at the time. The late Kebble was investigated for plundering resources at Randgold & Exploration and JCI at the time.
The investigations saw Nkuhlu and other league bosses being raided by investigators searching for Kebble’s missing millions shortly after his killing.
At the height of the power struggles in the ANC, which saw President Jacob Zuma taking over from Thabo Mbeki in 2007, Nkuhlu and others left the ANC to form the Congress of the People (Cope), where he served as its first Eastern Cape chairperson. With Cope’s infighting, he returned to the ANC. Nkuhlu lost his battle with diabetes on Tuesday. His long marriage to his wife, Zintle, ended amicably and he is survived by three children, two daughters and a son.
Nkuhlu leaves behind his twin, Ayanda, and four other brothers.
– Staff reporter
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