African Renaissance Conference  24- 26 May 2018



Mazankosi omuhle,Forgive me father for taking this long to compose this note to tell you that I am tremendously proud of you. I am aware that I remain irreplaceable in your large, yet gentle heart. I know baba that the month of April has its peculiar way of returning the upsetting memory of the day I was tragically taken away from you through that terrible car accident. Death cheated me on what would have been my first voting experience in our beautiful land. Both of us didn’t know that morning that we were bidding our last
goodbyes to one another, that the friend you were beginning to find in a son would be gone so soon. My beloved father, please keep in mind what you told me when you were released from Robben Island that, “that which hurts, builds.” If it means anything baba, find solace in the knowledge that I am in the serenity of God, in the comfort of my grandmother Esther Ndebele and the security of my grandfather Moses Ndebele who nurture and sustain me with all the moving stories of love, courage, and humility they have about you.

Today, I decided against postponing telling you that you are my champion and a hero of our family. I say this in the full knowledge that while each one of us may be made of flaws, in the eyes of God, we remain stitched together with good intentions. Thank you for your perennial forgiving approach, assuring me that if I did not make mistakes, it meant I am not growing nor trying new things. “Son of Man,” Jami says: “In the land where excellence is commended, not envied, where weakness is aided, not mocked, there

is no question as to how its inhabitants are all superhuman.” I am convinced baba that we would worry

less if we praised more. It is De Moss who said, “God lives in the place of praise. If we want to be where He is, we need to go to His address.” I ask you my humble father that this April, as our people commemorate

twenty years of national freedom, that you also celebrate your remarkable role in truly transforming the lives of many South Africans. I trust therefore, that twenty years of my passing away and twenty years of the birth of a new country where your work and those of your comrades is visible for all to witness, will give you a new life, rekindled energy, and renewed purpose to continue to serve society with distinction.

Baba, I am aware of your deep love for your organisation, the African National Congress of global icons and Nobel laureates like Chief Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela. You told me you chose this organisation because it sides with the masses of impoverished South Africans and it devises strategies, programs, and policies to address the material, intellectual, and spiritual dispossession of the oppressed.

I recall how you drew parallels between Christ’s gospel of freeing the oppressed, and the ANC’s Freedom Charter. It was only as I matured, that I began to appreciate that there was no contradiction between your commitment to us as a family and your loyalty to your extended family in the ANC.

You have remained faithful to the oath that you will place your energies and skills at the disposal of the ANC and carry out tasks given to you, and that you will make the ANC an even more effective instrument of liberation in the hands of the people. I am confident, that in the eyes of leaders like President Jacob Zuma, former Presidents Kgalema Motlante, Thabo Mbeki, and Nelson Mandela, you are an outstanding
cadre of the ANC because a cadre is not some third-grade afterthought who is suddenly assigned revolutionary duties of national importance. A cadre, as your life and a number of your comrades in
the ANC reveal, represents a confluence of all the accumulative experiences of a movement, through many crucibles of struggle. Your record of selfless service to the ANC and your country is indicative
that you have been through a process of ideological refinement, and didactic orientation. Indeed, like omama u-Dorothy Nyembe, Lilian Ngoyi and Bram Fischer, you are an all-weather leader who is not
affected by climatic conditions, and capable of optimum performance regardless of precipitation, wind, sun or the like. 

Baba, since you hardly take time to celebrate your achievements, I thought I should
remind you of a few things that brought pride to many of us in these twenty years as a public servant. I am mindful of your teaching that nobody can achieve success alone and of the saying, which in your usual humility were fond of, “it takes two flints to make a fire.” Your achievements, therefore, belong to the team of leaders and administrators that you worked with over the years. Some of the names that I recall are of leaders like President Zuma, Dr.Zweli Mkhize, Mr. Bheki Cele, Mr. Mike Mabuyakhulu, Ms. Peggy Nkonyeni, the late Mr. Dullar Omah, Mr. Mac Maharaj and many people who are currently leading the country and the province of KwaZulu-Natal. One should also not forget the brotherly advice that you have continued to receive over the years from your brother, my uncle Rev. Amos Ndebele and the ubuntu

and Christian upbringing you were blessed with from birth. 

Your role will forever be etched in the hearts of South Africans and the people of KZN as the MEC and later Minister of Transport who had a zero-tolerance on road safety non-compliance. Your Asiphephe campaign in KZN was later adopted nationally as the Arrive Alive campaign. Who can forget the mass, public safety awareness campaigns like Siyabakhumbula which you initiated to remember the victims of road carnage?

We are grateful, too, of your campaigns in promoting AIDS awareness and prevention, especially among long distance, truck drivers when you were MEC for transport. Today KZN enjoys peace and stability, and
you definitely influenced this outcome, especially in rooting out the violence in the taxi industry.
With minimal budgets, you proved extremely innovative, resourceful, and committed to women empowerment, rural development, and Broad-based Black economic empowerment. It was you who
launched multi-award winning, innovative,road infrastructure projects like:


  • The Emerging Contractor Development  Programme aimed at Emerging Black Contractors to enter construction industry.
  • ZIBAMBELE (doing it yourself) - the road maintenance programme targeting the contracting of women- headed household contractors.
  • The African Renaissance Road Upgrading Programme (ARRUP) with the key objective of ensuring that sourcing of inputs for road construction material for each of the roads was sourced from local communities.

We were delighted in September 2006, that out of 8000 contestants, you received the Golden Arrow Award for service excellence by the Professional Management Review. In 2006/7, your Office of the Premier scooped the prestigious Southern African Institute of Government Auditors (SAIGA) AnnualPublic Sector Reporting Awards for its excellence in annual reports.

When your term as Premier came to an end in 2009, you were rated the Best Premier in South Africa by an Ipsos Markinor Poll rating government leadership in the country. This Award followed the Auditor-
General’s praise of your leadership and commitment towards ensuring effective and efficient financial management of the various government departments in KZN. Baba, I am humbled and touched by
your commitment to your current role as Minister of Correctional Services. You are hard at work changing society’s perceptions of offenders, promoting their rehabilitation, and reintegration. Having been a political prisoner for ten years, you bring to the department a determined, sharp and clear voice about mankind’s inherent dignity, including the dignity and human rights of inmates which society must protect.

Thank you, for enabling victims of crime to be an integral part of the justice system through a restorative justice programme like the Victim-Offender Dialogues. Each day you continue to score victories for your
organisation, the ANC, and from a distance, I marvel and smile and say, that is my father, and I am proud of him. Happy twenty years of freedom baba and happy twenty years of committed service to all South Africans.Your son,


Written by Jennifer Mathapelo Shuenyane in an imagined voice of Minister Sibusiso Ndebele’s son
who died on the 6th of April 1994.