MTN'S THOKOZANI 'THE FARMER' REMEMBERED
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.
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.
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.