Mbeki pays tribute to Andrew Mlangeni at funeral
Johannesburg - Former president Thabo Mbeki has paid tribute to Struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni, describing him as an outstanding leader and a revolutionary.
Mlangeni passed away last week, aged 95. He was the last remaining Rivonia trialist.
Speaking at his funeral in Soweto, Mbeki said Mlangeni deserved the special official funeral which he had been afforded by the South African government.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was also expected to deliver the keynote address at his funeral.
Mbeki said the ANC should use Mlangeni’s death to spur the renewal of the ANC and called on the party to go to a consultative conference where it would address concerns about the renewal of the party.
Mbeki said the ANC’s 54th elective conference in Nasrec had addressed concerns about corruption, nepotism, factionalism, abusing state power and putting self interest above the people.
“It was natural that our leader Andrew Mlangeni would be concerned about the ANC and he spoke out. His spirit must live on, we must emulate his legacy and we need to say those words with meaning and emulate his example and his spirit will live on.
“We need to commit ourselves to the renewal of the ANC he built, the ANC he was concerned about,” said Mbeki.
“Some have said we need to go to a consultative conference to look at this issue of the ANC’s renewal, we must do that to allow the old man to rest in peace and communicate to him that indeed we honour his legacy,” said Mbeki.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who was speaking on the behalf of Premier David Makhura, said Mlangeni was “gone from our sight, but never from our hearts”.
“Here lies before us the body of a man, whose thoughts have opened the doors to our liberty. The gentle voice whose measured words of reason shook the thrones of tyrants and dictators. His voice has been silenced.
“And as the cold truth of this reality dawns on us with each passing day, our loss becomes more difficult to bear.
“Baba Mlangeni lived a remarkable life – a life dedicated to the selfless service of humanity and to the struggle of the working people of our country. His was a just and noble struggle, fought courageously and at an enormous personal cost.
“Baba Mlangeni was an outstanding leader of our country’s struggle for liberation and democracy. He was despised by the apartheid regime but adored by millions of freedom and democracy loving South Africans. His contribution to a new South Africa is unmatched.
“Hence, the ANC bestowed him with its highest honour, Isitwalandwe/ Seaparankoe for his unbroken service, for his dedication, commitment and unflinching loyalty to the cause - a just, free, peaceful and prosperous future,” said Lesufi.
Lesufi said the ANC had been robbed of a leader whose mind was agile and sharp as his tongue.
“A straight talker, a reliable defender of the unity of the ANC. A true Freedom Fighter. There are handful or few individuals who live an indelible mark in the history of humanity, and Baba Andrew Mlangeni was such a towering figure.
“His name occupies a special place amongst South Africans for his unbroken service to the struggle against the apartheid system and birth of a new South Africa we all enjoy today,” he said.