Ronnie, the consummate professional
DISTINGUISHED communicator. Stalwart of our Struggle for liberation. Seasoned. Consummate professional. Humble. Bright. Disciplined. Fearless. Selfless. Patient. Passionate. Gentle. Brilliant political mind. Militant. Loyal. Dedicated servant of the people. Organic intellectual. Quintessential soul. Unsung hero.
These are some of the words used yesterday to describe Ronnie Mamoepa, one of the government’s greatest communicators and a spokesperson par excellence.
His death, at only 56, marked the end of an era of great spokespeople and has robbed our country of a selfless public servant and a man who lived his entire life to work for his people.
A former Robben Island political prisoner in the 1980s, Mamoepa was a professional who served our country with distinction as spokesperson for the Presidency, some ministries and for the ANC.
At the time of his death on Saturday night, he was the spokesperson for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who visited him in hospital shortly before he passed away.
He suffered a stroke a few weeks ago and had been in hospital since. Like the true freedom fighter he was, Mamoepa fought until the end.
Always respectful and helpful to the media, Mamoepa communicated and articulated the message of the government with dedication and distinction, never allowing his political affiliations to stand in the way of his work.
Here was a man who knew that he was not the message.
Some say he was the best spokesperson the ANC has had since 1994, others say they don’t make spokespeople like him anymore and that government communications is poorer without him.
Mamoepa was a freedom fighter who dedicated his life to serving the people of South Africa, serving underground for the ANC and paying the price for his efforts in the fight against apartheid.
Until his death just before midnight on Saturday, he remained a true public servant, a role model for many young communicators not only in the government, but also in the private sector and in the media.
Always available to take media enquiries, Mamoepa was a joy to work with and always put the country first. But that’s not to say he was a pushover. Far from it.
He stood his ground, but remained professional and held no grudges.
Even when overlooked several times for the post of presidential spokesperson, Mamoepa never allowed politics to get to him. He served where he was needed and did it with dedication.
We couldn’t have said it better than Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo in a statement yesterday: “The loss, so soon, of such a true people’s servant, a faithful, fearless and uncompromising activist for social justice, equality and fairness is devastating.”
We join South Africans in mourning the passing of this gentle giant of communications.
May his family find strength at this difficult time, and may the work of Mamoepa inspire those in government to serve the country better.
To his wife Audrey and their children, thank you for sharing Bra Ronnie with us. We share your loss and mourn with you.
May his soul rest in peace.