MTN'S THOKOZANI 'THE FARMER' RE­MEM­BERED

Observer on Saturday - - Front Page - By Mandla Luphondvo

Thokozani Ja­ha­lakhe Dlamini is de­scribed by many as an elo­quent, re­silient, in­tel­li­gent, hum­ble and cheer­ful guy.

So pas­sion­ate a sales per­son he could read­ily sell ice cream to Oshoek res­i­dents in a cold win­ter night.

Phras­ing the same point dif­fer­ently, Muzi Mthembu says of Thokozani: “He was prob­a­bly the most re­silient char­ac­ter I have come across and would not eas­ily take no for an an­swer to a pro­posal he thought was vi­able. Fur­ther, he wouldn’t mind re-do­ing it, even more than five times, just to get the re­quired ap­proval,” says Mthembu.

The boom­ing of Swazi MTN’s Mo­bile Money, which now boasts of half a mil­lion sub­scribers can partly be at­trib­ut­able to Thokozani’s ef­forts. Hav­ing taken the ba­ton from Sam Shongwe, who pushed Mo­bile Money from the ground up since 2011, Thokozani in­stantly be­came a per­fect fit to take the prod­uct to un­prece­dented heights. Through his ef­forts, churches and soccer teams started us­ing Mo­bile Money to mo­bilise re­source for dif­fer­ent projects.

Plat­form

Be­cause Mo­bile Money is not just a lo­cal plat­form, MTN Group Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer and Pres­i­dent, Rob Shuter, notes that over 4 000 Mo­bile Money trans­ac­tions are pro­cessed glob­ally in a minute. And this is the prod­uct for which Thokozani will be re­mem­bered for pas­sion­ately driv­ing.

One of Thokozani’s lat­est ground break­ing as­sign­ments was mo­bil­is­ing a mul­ti­tude of lead­ers un­der the League of African Churches who packed Swazi MTN’s Au­di­to­rium. This oc­ca­sion marked the of­fi­cial launch of their fundrais­ing project through Mo­bile Money so they could con­struct their head­quar­ters val­ued at over E2.4 mil­lion.

Never has Swazi MTN seen so many pas­tors in a sin­gle seat­ing in the com­pany’s premises. And that, is part of the man­i­fes­ta­tion of the pas­sion that Thokozani had, which Mthembu de­scribes as be­ing driven by “the re­lent­less pur­suit for new op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Thokozani’s pur­suit of op­por­tu­ni­ties was not con­fined to his day job. In 2013, he joined hands with Musa Maseko, Khulile Dlamini and Isaac Dlamini to set up a ground break­ing farm­ing project where they pro­duced veg­eta­bles and green mealies on a grand scale.

This comes as a pleas­ant sur­prise. I will tell you why. From a dis­tance, Thokozani looked very much like a town guy who knew no hard, and dirty labour from a bar of soap.How­ever, his week­ends, for the du­ra­tion of the agri­cul­tural project, were char­ac­terised by trips to Ngo­mane which were laced with hard labour.

“Of­ten, by 4am, Thokozani would al­ready be in the field ready to work,” says Musa Maseko a re­tired telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions en­gi­neer.

Maseko, one of the coun­try’s ex­cep­tional ra­dio en­gi­neers. He has worked for Swazi­land Col­lege of Tech­nol­ogy (SCOT) as a lec­turer. He has also worked for Swazi MTN, and even­tu­ally Huawei.

Maseko is prob­a­bly one of the few ra­dio en­gi­neers who knows the coun­try’s telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions network in­side out.

One of the ex­ploits he is al­leged to have done as a lec­turer at the Swazi­land Col­lege of Tech­nol­ogy (SCOT) was tem­po­rar­ily set­ting up his ra­dio trans­mis­sion line, just for the fun of demon­strat­ing that he can do it – a telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions en­gi­neer in a class of his own.

Min­gled

Why is this rel­e­vant? That Thokozani mixed and min­gled with great minds like Maseko tells us of his as­pi­ra­tions – to be the best.

He was de­lib­er­ately on the path to great­ness, some­thing that is af­firmed by Mary Masim­ula who was in the same class with Thokozani for Mas­ter’s train­ing pro­gram.

Mbali Mu­lungu, who worked closely with Thokozani de­scribes him as a leader who treated every­one with re­spect.

“He never raised his voice and al­ways looked at what ac­tion had to be taken, in the face of chal­lenges, to forge ahead,” says Mu­lungu.

For Thokozani’s three chil­dren; Lwandzile, Sakhizwe and Umi­nathi, the de­par­ture of their dad is a com­plete shock. It is such a ter­ri­ble ex­pe­ri­ence.Un­for­tu­nately, ex­pe­ri­ence is of­ten dis­rup­tive and un­ex­pected. The loss of Thokozani has dis­man­tled, rudely so, the lim­ited hori­zons of all those who knew and loved him.

And God, in the rich­ness of His grace, will take these chil­dren, the rest of the Dlamini fam­ily, friends and col­leagues to a new, un­re­stricted hori­zon il­lu­mi­nated by God’s love.

FIELD DAY: Thokozani's friends and chil­dren on the field.

HARD WORKER: Thokozani poses next to a trac­tor used in the fields they worked on.

PAS­SION­ATE: Thokozani and friends stand­ing in the field they dili­gently worked on.

ABOVE AND BE­LOW: How the fields looked like.

LATE: MTN’s Thokozani Ja­ha­lakhe Dlamini.

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