Dr Richard Moponya during an interview after the Valentine breakfast event at Maponya Mall. Rebecca Kotane wife of the late struggle hero Mose's Kotane was accompanied and congratulated by Dr Richard Maponya who presented her with a special gift on Valentine's Day, she also celebrated her 100th Birthday which was on 12th february.Senior Citizens from The Grace Bible Church were also invited to the event which was part of The Maponya Mall Senior Citizens Valentine's celebrations, they were all treated to a breakfast at 'Primi Bazela' at Maponya Mall. Picture: Antoine de Ras/African News Agency(ANA)
THIS week was a momentous one for South Africans - we lost one of our greatest sons in Richard Maponya; recorded the highest matric pass rate in post-apartheid history; watched the ruling ANC pass its 108th milestone; and officially ended the festive season with a new cycle of load shedding.

Today Cyril Ramaphosa will be in Kimberley delivering the party’s so-called January 8 message, a foretaste of what his State of the Nation Address will be next month when government business begins officially.

While we celebrate with the class of 2019, the truth of the matter is that the pass rate is 81.3% of those who sat the final exam, but only 38.9% of the cohort who had been in Grade 10 two years before. That is a deeply damning indictment in any country, but especially ours with our level of youth unemployment, yet we gloss over the legions failed by the system and celebrate the many who did pass, but only by the standards of a 30% compliance.

Equally, we can only start to rebuild the compromised and costly Frankenstein that is Eskom when government honestly grasps the horns of a dilemma that traverses cadre deployment, state capture and overstaffing. We can only turn the page on corruption and collusion when the guilty are prosecuted.

South Africa is beset by challenges, which - if we are to have any hope of resolving them rather than merely addressing them - we dare not hide behind politically correct euphemisms or vacuous platitudes. To do so dishonours the memory of people like Maponya.

Ntate Maponya overcame incredible adversity, personal, professional and institutional, to embody the triumph of the human spirit.

If our leaders want to rediscover their true north, next Tuesday when they bid him farewell they should ask themselves how the Maponyas of the future can become the norm and not the exception as they continue to seem fated to be.