So long, Com­rade Molewa, ser­vant of the peo­ple

The Sunday Independent - - METRO - SIHLE ZIKALALA Sihle Zikalala is ANC KZN chair­per­son and MEC for Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, Tourism and En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs.

This is a short­ened tribute at the Memo­rial Ser­vice of Min­is­ter Edna Molewa.

MIN­IS­TER Molewa, as we have been told, was not only a min­is­ter of govern­ment, she was an ex­cep­tional hu­man be­ing and a phe­nom­e­nal woman.

She ex­celled in all hu­man pur­suits and had a well-rounded life.

She served as a mem­ber of her church, a fam­ily pil­lar, mother and a friend.

She was not only an ANC Strug­gle stal­wart, but served dili­gently in the trade union move­ment.

In her pres­ence few were equal to the task! She made pass­ing through the eye of a nee­dle seem a breeze, where many car­ry­ing the bur­den of wealth would fail.

She be­longed to a league of tried and tested ex­tra­or­di­nary women of her time.

Since Min­is­ter Molewa walked the last mile of her way, our coun­try has re­ceived mes­sages of good­will from all over the world.

We have through­out the last week lis­tened to tribute af­ter tribute and been moved by the out­pour­ing of heart­felt ac­co­lades.

We have been re­minded that she started her life as a daugh­ter of the op­pressed, but she would not al­low her­self to be de­fined by the small­ness of time, the big­otry of race and the ac­cu­mu­lated bur­dens of her past.

In­stead of ac­cept­ing racial op­pres­sion, she fought back.

She bore her cross with hon­our and right­eous­ness. She would not al­low that nei­ther she nor her peo­ple should be de­fined by any­thing else but the con­tent of their char­ac­ter.

She re­fused to be caged by her race, gen­der, class and other so­cio-eco­nomic con­struc­tions.

Right to the end, she was loyal to the cause of a demo­cratic, non-racial, non-sex­ist, just and pros­per­ous South Africa.

Where she led, she led with in­tegrity, sin­cer­ity and truth. Where she fol­lowed, she did so with grace and hu­mil­ity. Where she was called, she an­swered with a sense of duty, ser­vice and putting her peo­ple first.

She would walk into a dead­lock and leave with a res­o­lu­tion. She would do so forthrightly, with dig­nity and with moral author­ity.

She made the case for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment with­out fear, favour or sense of re­treat. She was de­ter­mined and de­ci­sive. She would not be swayed where prin­ci­ple mat­tered.

De­spite her world renown, she did not wal­low in her own sense of van­ity. Driven by the pain and dreams of her peo­ple, she for­ever and al­ways car­ried her­self with quiet dig­nity.

She was not one for the noisy pur­suits of life. She pre­ferred science, rea­son and in­tel­lec­tual rigour in all she did. She won her ar­gu­ments not by pop­u­lar sen­ti­ment but by the force of great ideas.

As a for­mer worker leader, she em­ployed tools of anal­y­sis as a fu­sion of ne­ces­sity, in­no­va­tion and sci­en­tific ad­vance­ment.

In her work, noth­ing would es­cape her eye. She did not suf­fer fools lightly. She had the un­canny abil­ity to con­sume facts with the dex­ter­ity to out­fox the ar­chi­tects of poverty, want and de­pri­va­tion.

When she spoke for her peo­ple, when she stood up for the Khoi and the San, when she de­fended the rhino, fought against the de­struc­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment, when she spoke of the theft, mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion and com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of our her­itage, she did so with brav­ery and con­vic­tion.

At times she stood alone, but never grew faint of heart in her de­fence of the birth rights and legacy of her peo­ple.

To the ul­ti­mate end, she ded­i­cated her­self to teach­ing, learn­ing, thought-lead­er­ship and strug­gle .

As her daugh­ter told us this week, her mother was prone to sit­ting close to her tele­phone, re­fus­ing to switch it off.

As she was known to in­sist, she de­manded that when the or­di­nary woman from Pitse-di-Sule Jang – a ref­er­ence to culling of don­keys un­der Man­gope ban­tus­tan mis­rule – called her, she had to be able to re­spond.

She thought she had to re­spond promptly and di­rectly to the cries on rhino poach­ing, wa­ter scarcity, and eco­nomic marginal­i­sa­tion of the peo­ple of Hluh­luwe, Mahla­bathini (iSi­man­gal­iso) and Bul­wer.

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