Spokesper­son dies in hos­pi­tal af­ter stroke

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - MASABATA MK­WANANZI­ @Sa­bie_M

PRAYER ses­sions for late gov­ern­ment com­mu­ni­ca­tor and Strug­gle stal­wart Ron­nie Mamoepa are ex­pected to start to­day and run un­til Fri­day at his home in Cen­tu­rion as con­do­lences pour in.

This comes as Mamoepa’s death at the week­end was con­firmed by the Pres­i­dency on Satur­day night.

Mamoepa, 56, had been bat­tling com­pli­ca­tions from a stroke since be­ing ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal five weeks ago. He was at the Uni­tas Hos­pi­tal in Pre­to­ria at the time of his death.

Heart-wrench­ing trib­utes from those who knew and worked with Mamoepa in­cluded one from Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, who said this was a great loss not only to him­self per­son­ally but also to the Pres­i­dency.

For­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki de­scribed Mamoepa as a de­voted ser­vant of the peo­ple, a loyal cadre, a model fel­low cit­i­zen and a dean of gov­ern­ment com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

“One of his many qual­i­ties that those who knew Com­rade Ron­nie will miss is his keen sense of hu­mour and abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate vi­tal truths in jest,” Mbeki’s Foun­da­tion said.

Mamoepa is an icon of the coun­try’s lib­er­a­tion Strug­gle, hav­ing served five years of his youth in­car­cer­ated at Robben Is­land prison in Cape Town.

Af­ter the 1994 demo­cratic elec­tions, he joined the gov­ern­ment and served the coun­try with dis­tinc­tion as a com­mu­ni­ca­tions prac­ti­tioner.

His ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in­cluded ANC com­mu­ni­ca­tions and var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ca­tions roles in gov­ern­ment, no­tably the Pres­i­dency, the then Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs and the Depart­ment of Home Af­fairs.

Mamoepa fam­ily spokesper­son, Groovin Nch­a­be­leng, said Mamoepa’s next of kin had asked the coun­try to join them in prayer as they come to terms with their un­timely loss.

Nch­a­be­leng added that the fam­ily ex­pressed its sin­cere ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the man­age­ment and staff of Uni­tas Hos­pi­tal, who cared for Mamoepa dur­ing his five-week stay.

“We are also grate­ful for all the to­kens of sup­port re­ceived from mem­bers of the fam­ily, friends, col­leagues and as­so­ciates from Ron­nie’s ex­ten­sive net­work around the coun­try and in­ter­na­tion­ally,” said Nch­a­be­leng.

He added that the fam­ily held a prayer ses­sion yes­ter­day at Mamoepa’s home in Pre­to­ria and will also host de­vo­tion ses­sions there for the en­tire week.

DA na­tional spokesman Re­filoe Nt’sekhe also ex­tended her heart­felt con­do­lences to the Mamoepa fam­ily, say­ing the party re­mains grate­ful for his com­mend­able work as a pub­lic ser­vant.

Min­is­ter of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Naledi Pan­dor said: “I fondly re­mem­ber Ron­nie as a very ca­pa­ble and pro­fes­sional head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Home Af­fairs depart­ment.

“We worked closely to­gether, draw­ing on his ideas for broad­en­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions and serv­ing the pub­lic.”

The Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion re­called Mamoepa’s as­so­ci­a­tion with the late pres­i­dent, dat­ing back many years, to when they first met on Robben Is­land.

“Our con­do­lences to his wife Au­drey, their fam­ily, com­rades and friends, and to Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and col­leagues with whom he worked un­til he fell ill last month,” the state­ment read.

The South African Com­mu­nist Party said it was also sad­dened by Mamoepa’s death.

It added that, in his mem­ory, the party would strengthen its ef­forts to forge the broad­est pos­si­ble pa­tri­otic front, in de­fence of the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion and the deep­en­ing of democ­racy.

Con­gress of the Peo­ple (Cope) pres­i­dent Mosiuoa Lekota said he knew Mamoepa from the era of the United Demo­cratic Front and as a young star on Robben Is­land.

“He was al­ways a com­mit­ted and hard-work­ing com­rade with a pas­sion for com­mu­ni­cat­ing to our na­tion,” Lekota said.

Mean­while, de­tails of fu­neral ar­range­ments will be re­leased to­day.

His fam­ily has asked the coun­try to pray with them

Ta­bane is au­thor of Let’s Talk Frankly and host of Power Per­spec­tive on Power 98.7 Sun­days to Thurs­days 9.30pm to mid­night

AFEW week ago, the SACP met in Ekurhu­leni to de­lib­er­ate on the fu­ture of the ANC. The party would have us be­lieve that this is an un­prece­dented de­vel­op­ment that will shape his­tory. Last week, the party con­cluded its na­tional con­gress on a highly repet­i­tive note – re­peat­ing many of its old res­o­lu­tions and re­turn­ing its old lead­er­ship to power.

In many ways it con­sol­i­dated its on­go­ing ir­rel­e­vance in the South African po­lit­i­cal land­scape. Quite frankly, re­peat­ing slo­gans of the NDR (Na­tional Demo­cratic Rev­o­lu­tion) such as “most di­rect route to so­cial­ism”, as well as tired in­ter­ven­tions, such as a threat to con­vene yet an­other jobs sum­mit, left many left­ists dis­ap­pointed.

Very few com­rades within the move­ment have pointed an ac­cus­ing fin­ger at the SACP for fail­ing in its mis­sion of be­ing a van­guard of the work­ing class. Many of us are sen­ti­men­tal about what the SACP ought to be and what it used to be, but now all di­alec­ti­cal dis­cus­sion seems to have been re­placed with a frank assess­ment of the ac­tual, and not the per­ceived, rev­o­lu­tion­ary role of the party.

Dur­ing our stu­dent days, shout­ing the name of the SACP drew a great deal of ap­plause as we naively be­lieved that the party was the leader in thought gen­er­a­tion in the al­liance. The use of the names Moses Kotane, JB Marks and even Joe Slovo and Chris Hani had us all ex­cited. But none of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary adages, sup­posed to des­ig­nate what the party was meant to be or do, ac­tu­ally ma­te­ri­alised much in our post-1994 ex­is­tence. The SACP has been a mon­u­men­tal dis­ap­point­ment and cer­tainly not a van­guard of our peo­ple in the slight­est of ways. I wish I were ex­ag­ger­at­ing the party’s non-role, but in fact I’m putting things very mildly.

Let’s take a look at just a few of its car­di­nal fail­ures.

Fail­ure to ini­ti­ate rad­i­cal pol­icy. There is no ev­i­dence that the SACP, as a party, has ini­ti­ated any leg­is­la­tion de­spite sit­ting in Par­lia­ment in al­liance with the rul­ing party since 1994. As a van­guard party, its mem­bers or lead­er­ship could have picked a range of poli­cies and laws af­fect­ing work­ers to en­sure the party’s role in the van­guard. To this day, lead­er­ship and mem­bers can point to no such leg­is­la­tion.

Fail­ure to fight against ne­olib­er­al­ism within the al­liance. The Gear (Growth, Em­ploy­ment and Re­dis­tri­bu­tion) phase re­mains the prime ex­am­ple of how the SACP was a tooth­less ally, happy to go along with ne­olib­er­al­ism. Since 1996, the SACP has done noth­ing to re­verse the dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences of anti-so­cial­ist eco­nomic poli­cies. In fact, they joined the gov­ern­ment, sur­ren­dered their gen­eral sec­re­tary and par­tic­i­pated in pol­icy paral­y­sis for more than a decade, re­mov­ing any re­main­ing hope that the party might steer the ANC away from ne­olib­er­al­ism.

Fail­ure to de­liver on a pro­gramme to en­gen­der con­fi­dence in what­ever is re­main­ing of any kind of so­cial­ist pro­gramme. There is no tan­gi­ble so­cial­ist pro­gramme of in­ter­ven­tion to speak of in the pro­grammes of the SACP that are sig­nif­i­cant in the eco­nomic pol­icy frame­work. Pro­grammes, such as the Red Oc­to­ber project, demon­strate the SACP is a mi­nor pres­sure group whose cam­paigns never shift poli­cies.

Fail­ure to ed­u­cate the pub­lic about its mis­sion. Very few peo­ple who are not mem­bers can tell you why there is a need for the SACP to ex­ist. In­ter­nally there is no clear ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme, not even one about what so­cial­ism re­ally means. Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma made an ob­ser­va­tion that af­ter an en­tire week of meet­ing there was no “sem­i­nal dec­la­ra­tion about how the SACP in­tends build­ing so­cial­ism”. Sadly, he is right. While the party took a cor­rect stance in not al­low­ing Zuma to ad­dress them, even in his ab­sence, it is still a to­tal fail­ure as a van­guard. Mem­bers have gen­er­ally not had the courage of their con­vic­tions and they can­not bring the ad­min­is­tra­tion down, largely be­cause they them­selves are trapped in its pa­tron­age. They threat­ened to re­sign en masse not so long ago but changed their minds as soon as they saw the wind blow­ing oth­er­wise. Pa­tron­age pol­i­tics got the bet­ter of them. A de­tailed anal­y­sis of their shifty fac­tional pol­i­tics is not even nec­es­sary at this stage to reach the con­clu­sion of the party’s ir­rel­e­vance.

Fail­ure to unite work­ers. This must be the SACP’s car­di­nal sin. To call your­self a van­guard of the work­ers and then spend time di­vid­ing work­ers, as the SACP has done in the break-up of Cosatu, is sim­ply sin­ful. We are all clear about the fact that when Cosatu started stray­ing un­der Zwelinz­ima Vavi, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween SACP and Cosatu de­te­ri­o­rated so much that it was clear that the SACP could have no pos­si­ble pos­i­tive in­flu­ence in the life of Cosatu. The sub­se­quent breakup of Cosatu and the birth of Safta is a di­rect re­sult of the fail­ure of the SACP and Cosatu as al­liance part­ners to in­ter­vene de­ci­sively to keep work­ers united. Only a dis­hon­est anal­y­sis could ar­rive at a dif­fer­ent con­clu­sion.

Now, with all these fail­ures that go to the heart of why any­one would need a com­mu­nist party, why should any­one care if the SACP stands for elec­tions on its own? The ques­tion is, what did be­ing part of the ANC stop the party do­ing that it will now be able to do if it stands for elec­tions in­de­pen­dently? This, by the way, is not even a new res­o­lu­tion – it’s a 10-year-old res­o­lu­tion that the SACP clearly had no stamina to im­ple­ment be­cause mem­bers know in their hearts of hearts that they don’t re­ally mean it.

Is this the same party for which Chris Hani shed his blood? This is a party that has failed to fight for the moral lead­er­ship and up­right­ness of the ANC, a party that has failed to in­ter­vene to up­lift young peo­ple in any way. This is a party placed in charge of cru­cial port­fo­lios such as higher ed­u­ca­tion, but to no so­cial­ist end. I wish I had more time to un­pack the ide­o­log­i­cal fail­ures but stress­ing the more sim­pli­fied ones was nec­es­sary to un­der­line the ir­rel­e­vance that the party has be­come. South Africa needs a new van­guard for work­ers – who is it go­ing to be?

MOURNED: Ron­nie Mamoepa, a Strug­gle stal­wart.


NOWHERE PEO­PLE: SACP del­e­gates are all sound and fury at the party’s na­tional con­gress in Boks­burg ear­lier this month.

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