Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa lauds late busi­ness­man as a de­voted pa­triot

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DUR­BAN: Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa lauded busi­ness­man Richard Maponya for be­ing a true pa­triot while ad­dress­ing mourn­ers at the funeral of the en­trepreneur yes­ter­day.

“Richard Pel­wana Maponya was the most de­voted of pa­tri­ots. He loved his coun­try and he loved his peo­ple. He was a sol­dier, not of the bat­tle­field, but at the front line of the strug­gle for the eco­nomic eman­ci­pa­tion of his peo­ple – a strug­gle that en­dures to this day,” said Ramaphosa at the Univer­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg’s Soweto Cam­pus.

For­mer pres­i­dents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Mot­lanthe were also in attendance, along with other dig­ni­taries and politi­cians. Maponya died on Jan­uary 6 af­ter a short ill­ness. He was 99.

Ramaphosa de­scribed him as a man of ex­tra­or­di­nary re­silience who per­se­vered un­til he reached the pin­na­cle of suc­cess.

“And yet he re­mained hum­ble, mag­nan­i­mous and gen­er­ous. South Africa in­deed has lost one of her finest sons.”

Maponya was driven by the con­vic­tion that South Africa would never be truly free un­til the fruits of pros­per­ity were shared by all its peo­ple, said Ramaphosa, adding that Maponya had stood for self-up­lift­ment and in­spired a new gen­er­a­tion of busi­ness peo­ple.

“De­spite his stature as the doyen of black busi­ness, he was al­ways there with a hand to pull up those who stood be­low.

“Hav­ing scaled the heights, he wanted to see oth­ers along­side him on the ros­trum of suc­cess.

“Ntate Richard was al­ways push­ing back the fron­tiers, ag­i­tat­ing for more to be done to sup­port small busi­ness, and en­cour­ag­ing more peo­ple to take the great and daunt­ing leap into en­trepreneur­ship.

“From his ear­li­est days, and long be­fore it be­came a pop­u­lar term, he demon­strated the qual­i­ties of re­spon­si­ble cor­po­rate cit­i­zen­ship.

“He did not hoard the gains he made over his decades in busi­ness, but ploughed much of it back into the com­mu­ni­ties in which he op­er­ated,” said the pres­i­dent.

Maponya did not see cor­po­rate so­cial in­vest­ment as box-tick­ing, but as an im­per­a­tive to trans­form a racialised econ­omy, he added. Dur­ing apartheid,

Maponya viewed black busi­ness as part of the broad lib­er­a­tion move­ment to ad­vance eco­nomic free­dom.

Maponya was a straight talker, said the pres­i­dent, who did not hes­i­tate to chide the govern­ment when it was go­ing off course, but he did this from a po­si­tion of prin­ci­ple, not mal­ice.

“I per­son­ally re­ceived many a late-night call from him, sharing his view­point on one or an­other press­ing is­sue of the day.

“In my very last en­gage­ments with him he urged me to do ev­ery­thing I could to see his great­est dream re­alised, to set up a youth en­trepreneur­ship acad­emy. It is a wish I will en­deav­our to see ful­filled on his be­half.

“What I will re­mem­ber most from th­ese con­ver­sa­tions is that he did not in­tel­lec­tu­alise prob­lems, sim­ply rant or speak in vague terms. He al­ways ended th­ese dis­cus­sions by say­ing: ‘Here, this is what I can do. This is what I will do. This is what I have. Send me.’”

| NOKUTHULA MBATHA African News Agency (ANA)

THE of­fi­cial funeral ser­vice of busi­ness­man Dr Richard Maponya, who died on Jan­uary 6 at the age of 99.

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