26 July 2017
Address by the Minister of Communications, Honourable Ayanda Dlodlo at the memorial service of Mr Ronnie Mamoepa
Ladies and Gentlemen
Sedulous, efficient, productive, committed, diligent, industrious, assiduous, tireless. These are but a few words that describe Ronnie Mamoepa’s attitude to work and duty.
Cheerful, chirpy, contented, delectable, enraptured, exuberant, humourous, invigorating, mirthful, wacky, zingy and just plain pleasant the list to describe his infectious character and approach to life does not even begin to do justice to describe Ronnie’s character.
On Sunday 23 July 2017, South Africans retired for the night after receiving the tragic news of the death of this beautiful human being, a struggle veteran and dedicated civil servant, Mr Ronnie Mamoepa. Actually, Comrade Ronnie to me, a humble, disciplined and dedicated champion of the people.
As I reflect with pride on the life and times of Ronnie Mamoepa perhaps it is befitting to borrow from the final line of the 11th Thesis on Feuerbach by Karl Marx, “Philophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways, the point is to change it”. Ronnie Mamoepa belonged to a generation of staunch revolutionaries who dared to change our world.
He first came to prominence as a young teenage activist in the late 70’s and 80’s and was eventually jailed and served time on Robben Island. He was a fierce and dedicated freedom fighter who never took a step back in fighting for the cause of liberation, justice and freedom.
During his lifetime Ronnie served in many capacities, but wherever he served he sought to make a difference. He was fearless, dedicated and extremely hard working. He would and could not rest until the job was done.
Many fellow government communicators here today will no doubt remember being called to action by Ronnie. Many of you here today grew under the tutelage of this captivating storyteller. Many of us here were inspired and mentored by Ronnie. He was meticulous in his approach and insisted that those who worked with him gave their best at all times and more. He delivered excellence and superior communications products and expected the same from all of us including colleagues from the media
When I first heard that Ronnie had been admitted to hospital I felt sick. I called Busani his colleague, and he never returned my calls I resigned to the fact that I would see him when he is discharged. I resisted to make any more calls to anybody and didn’t care for Busani to return my call because I was a lot more comfortable with no news but lived in the hope comforting hope that he would recover soon. I held on to a belief that Ronnie was the type that was made to recover quickly because life was a little slower with him in hospital.
I was told of a story when a few years back Ronnie took ill and was in hospital for a number of weeks. When he came out a certain colleagues happy to welcome him back said “Ronnie welcome back, you gave us a fright there, we thought you were gone".
Ronnie wittily responded, “my boy, don't wish for that day because at my funeral you won't have access. It will be so big that the only way for you to gain entry will be if you are an ANC marshal or carrying a ANC youth league banner matching in front" of the hearse".
Ronnie was always like eno or citrosoda, effervescent robust and strong and just brought a sense of calm and relief in sad and uncomfortable moments and situations. I knew I would never visit him in hospital when I heard he was in a coma. I just could not fathom a still and quiet Ronnie. That was a sight that would have scared, frightened and distorted my view of this lively character I got to know and love, I will forever remember his warm smile, his open and welcoming nature, as well as his deep intellect and critical thinking.
Government Communicators and the media fraternity join the nation in mourning the passing of Ronnie Mamoepa and sends sincere condolences for their loss. He was a stalwart of the anti-apartheid struggle; a dedicated and humble civil servant and a loving husband and father. Ronnie was a true and loyal and dependable friend to many.
I remember travelling back to Johannesburg with him from comrade Collins Chabane’s funeral. He coaxed me into abandoning my transport and travelled back with him and comrade Faizel. He spoke most of the way on that journey to Johannesburg. He knew I needed love, and comfort from true comrades from that funeral.as caring and loving Ronnie would not have me travel back alone on that long drive to Johannesburg after I had buried my comrade and friend. He made the journey back so much more pleasant. By the time we got back to Jozi, I knew so much more about him and his naughty young years. I marvelled at his great gift of story telling and his deep love and respect for fellow comrades, his party and the people.
This week I will bury another friend, comrade and colleague who comforted me In that time of great sadness. This week I honour and pay tribute to another friend and colleague who placed the people before self.
I know I can say that the thoughts and prayers of the nation are with the Mamoepa family. My condolences to the ANC, Ronnie’s political home from when he was a child until his untimely death. Ronnie may have passed on but his legacy lives on and his contribution to our country will never be forgotten.
On behalf of the government Communicators Forum, colleagues in the media space I would like to call on all South Africans to join us as we pay tribute to a life well lived in indignity and honour.
Ronnie and countless others of his generation lived to serve the people of South Africa. Ronnie represented a generation of those who gave up their childhood and youth for a life of struggle to ensure the liberation of all South Africans when there was no prospect of reward or recognition
We owe it to the sacrifices of Ronnie and countless others to protect and expand on the many social and economic gains that we have made since 1994. We should never forget that role played by Ronnie and others in helping us move from a repressive regime to a society built on the values of human rights, dignity and democracy.
It is up to us to carry on this legacy by shaping a national identity and consciousness that is built on mutual respect, tolerance and acceptance.
Our country undoubtedly has many challenges, however Ronnie and millions of others continued to fight and work for a better and more inclusive nation. He taught us the values of humility, sacrifice and service.
We have a choice to make; we can either do nothing, or hope that someone else will be the change we want to see. Or like Ronnie we can take the proverbial bull by the horns, lead and become the change we want to see.
The sacrifices of Ronnie and others has brought us this far, but there is still more to be done. Let us get to work and together build the nation of our collective dreams.
RIP my comrade, my friend and fellow fighter, you will be sorely missed.
I thank you.
Issued by: Government Communications