Newcastle Mayor and ANC chairperson in Emalahleni Region Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba on Thursday described former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe as a selfless liberation giant and Africa’s Godfather.
“When we commemorate the life of comrade president Robert Mugabe we should understand that we are standing on the shoulders of a giant, who was not just a leader but he was a giant,” said Mahlaba, a medical doctor who was recently acquitted on murder charges in connection with a killing of an ANC Youth League leader.
Mahlaba addressed thousands of ANC supporters who packed the Majuba TVET College in Newcastle, northern KwaZulu-Natal, to listen to former president Jacob Zuma delivering a memorial lecture on Mugabe.
“One thing I like about President Mugabe is that until his last day he never betrayed the revolution.
“He made sure that he fought for the total liberation of the African people, and he understood that political freedom without economic freedom is nothing,” said Mahlaba.
This was the third lecture to be held in the province since Mugabe passed away on September 6. Former president Thabo Mbeki delivered the first one at the Durban City Hall while President Cyril Ramaphosa held another at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall.
Regional secretary Chris Mhlophe said the ANC provincial leadership had decided that these lectures should be held in the province and be addressed by the former presidents and the sitting one.
“Not all 11 regions are hosting this event, and we were fortunate that out of the 11 regions, Emalahleni region was trusted that it would be able to deliver a credible and dignified programme commemorating the life of president Mugabe.
“We are here celebrating the life of a giant, a Pan Africanist and seasoned son of the soil,” he said.
ANC provincial deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu said the ANC had on hearing of Mugabe’s death lowered its banners as a sign of mourning.
“When we lost a giant, one of the finest leaders that this continent had ever produced, we all lowered our banners.
“We had a moment of reflection, we joined the people of Zimbabwe and the world over in mourning the passing away of president Robert Mugabe,” he said.
He said the ANC in the province would this month also hold lectures in memory of OR Tambo.
He said the province would also commemorate ANC stalwart Dumisani Makhaye who succumbed to cancer in October 2014.