Tributes pour in for late former ambassador Lindiwe Mabuza
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Johannesburg – Tributes continue to pour in for former ambassador and the Order of Ikhamanga recipient Lindiwe Mabuza following her long battle with cancer.
Mabuza died on Monday at her home, surrounded by her family.
Former President Thabo Mbeki described the stalwart as a strong supporter of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.
He said the foundation has regularly depended on her to advise it as a member of its council of advisers.
“Mabuza was a self-effacing, guileless, and humane person, who served our country and its people with distinction for well over half a century in various capacities during both the struggle for our liberation and the democratic dispensation.
“Following our country’s liberation in 1994, she was among the first women who were tasked to represent our country as ambassadors,” Mbeki said.
Mabuza was born in Newcastle, KZN in 1938 and later in life pursued her studies at the Roma University in Lesotho.
After graduating, she went on to teach English and isiZulu literature.
In January 1977 she took a giant leap, leaving her job that had guaranteed tenure to work for the ANC on a full-time basis.
At the movement's headquarters in Lusaka, she was assigned work as a radio journalist with ANC Radio Freedom broadcasting into South Africa from the Radio Zambia studios.
She became the editor of the journal, Voice of Women (VOW), chairperson of the ANC cultural committee with the specific assignment to ensure the development of Amandla, the ANC Cultural Ensemble, for international mobilisation against apartheid and support for the ANC.
There were two tours of Amandla, each covering six countries, plus fundraising campaigns for the construction of the ANC's premier project, the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (Somafco) in Mazimbu, Tanzania.
In 1979 she was appointed by OR Tambo as the chief representative of the ANC to the Scandinavian countries, based in Sweden, until 1987.
She was responsible for the opening of the ANC office in Denmark in 1985, Norway in 1986 and Finland in 1987.
Following this success, she was transferred to the US where she opened the ANC office in Washington DC.
She served as the ANC chief representative to that country from 1989 to 1994.
During her tenure, the first visit of the United Democratic Front (UDF) delegation led by Albertina Sisulu and also the historic visit of Nelson Mandela took place.
She also, in 1993, obtained a diploma in diplomacy from the Institute for Diplomacy and Foreign Relations, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
With the dawn of the new democratic South Africa, she became a member of the first democratic South African Parliament where she served from 1994 to 1995 in the arts and culture as well as foreign relations committees.
Former president Nelson Mandela appointed her as ambassador to Germany from 1995 to 1999.
Under former president Thabo Mbeki she was appointed as the high commissioner to Malaysia, Brunei and a non-resident ambassador to The Philippines (based in Malaysia) from 1999 to 2001.
There, the drama of the hostage crisis unfolded with two South African nationals, Callie and Monique Strydom, caught in the middle.
Eventually, they were safely released into her care.
ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said Mabuza was a freedom fighter and comrade in her own name and right joined the ANC in 1975.
“Another giant tree has fallen.
“Throughout her life, Mabuza was a cultural activist.
“She received numerous awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Durban-Westville in 1993, the Yari Yari Award for contributions to Human Rights and Literature from the New York University in 1997, and in 2004, the South African National Order of Ikhamanga in Silver, for her tireless work as a cultural and arts ambassador,” Mabe said.
At the time of her passing, she was editing another book of reflections on relations between the ANC and Sweden during the anti-apartheid Struggle.