Address by Gauteng Premier, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, during the funeral service of Dr. Sizakele Sigxashe.
17 Dec 2011
The Sigxashe family
His Excellency, the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr. Jacob Zuma
Deputy-President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr. Kgalema Motlanthe
The Chairperson of the ANC, Ms. Baleka Mbete,
The Treasurer-General of the ANC, Mr. Matthew Phosa
The Secretary-General of the ANC, Mr. Gwede Mantashe,
The Deputy-Secretary-General of the ANC, Ms. Thandi Modise,
Members of the National Executive Committee of the ANC
Honourable Minister of State Security, Mr. Siyabonga Cwele
Honourable Ministers and Deputy-Ministers
Members of Parliament
Members of the Provincial Legislature
Veterans of our struggle
Comrades and Friends
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great honour for me to be making a tribute to this great warrior, a giant, a great man of stature and moral rectitude, and a proud son of the soil. Dr Sizakele Sigxashe, affectionately known to all of us as comrade Siza epitomised the traits of a true revolutionary; astute as ever, yet unobtrusive and unassuming at all times.
He lived his life with tenacity and vigour true to his love for his country of birth. The people of South Africa would not have done any better than to bid farewell to comrade Siza a day after the Jubilee celebrations of the founding of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the people army.
Today, we are gathered to celebrate and not to mourn the life of comrade Siza. His was a life born of struggle for the liberation of his people, and was inspired by the spirit of those that came before him - Chief Albert Luthuli, Moses Kotane, J.B. Marks, Yusuf Dadoo, O.R. Tambo, Moses Mabhida, Lilian Ngoyi, Florence Mophosho and many others.
The history of South African struggle would not be complete without the inclusion of the role he played toward the attainment of democracy and freedom. His resolve to rid our country of racism and oppression and to usher in a new era of democracy was unflinching.
He was ever energetic in demonstrating his attitude of selflessness, carrying with him that enthusiastic zeal to always be doing something for someone somewhere. It was in him that many found solace and space of expression to discover their full potential, especially during the trying times of exile life.
In whatever portfolio he worked in he went the extra mile. We would all reminisce nostalgically the times when Radio Freedom, the voice of the African National Congress, used to be such a powerful tool of communication with the people of South Africa; when we would be found huddled together with other comrades to seep as much as possible from this well of knowledge. Comrade Siza was intimately involved in this particular revolutionary task when he worked as the head of the Department of Information and Publicity at the ANC's headquarters in Lusaka.
He grew from strength to strength in his tasks until he got to the portfolio within the security and intelligence structures in exile led by both the late comrade Joe Nhlanhla, the former minister of Intelligence and comrade Jacob Zuma, the President of both the Republic of South Africa and the African National Congress, respectively.
He was always the first to come to the office and the last one to leave. To the comrades who worked with him in Lusaka at the Green House, he was an enigma. And important to note, is the fact that this very structure he worked within would later become the nucleus of both National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the South African Secret Service (SASS); leading to the present State Security Agency (SSA).
Stimela, one of the fore-most musical groups of the 80's and 90's in South Africa sang a song whose lyrics go thus:
"Trees are falling down
And they scatter the seeds
The caterpillar is dying
And the butterfly is born...
Scatter the ashes and go."
These lyrics inspired one of the fore-most writers in South Africa, Dr. Mongane Wally Serote, in his novel titled Scatter the ashes and go. This is a symbolism for the metamorphic nature of development; that life is forever in a constant state of change.
That to every birth, its pain; to every death its pain. And in the same breath, the scripture teaches us in Isaiah 61:3 that God will console those who are in pain, to give them beauty for ashes.
Comrades and Friends,
Comrade Siza was a champion amongst champions. Like a true champion he confronted the situations head on, he never-ever ran away from any situation, he never backed-off. Like a true champion, he was tenacious, he never allowed himself to lose grip of any situation. Like a true champion, he got inspired by competition - he made sure that whatever challenge he was confronted with, he was going to fight until he came out victorious. He understood that the greater the challenge, the greater the value of the glory and the sweeter the victory.
Unassuming, as always, in his style of leadership, he had internalised and understood the adage that says: A title and position do not guarantee performance, productivity and excellence - only hard-work. In a very humble way, comrade Siza taught us that in executing the responsibilities of leadership, the leader exemplifies - through his words, actions, and overall dedication - the qualities and skills that result in a positive progression toward the fulfilment of the vision. In addition, that the leader serves and can never demand the "right" to lead, but rather is given an opportunity by others to serve them in that capacity. The privilege of leading is earned through the cultivation of trust.
As we join hands in committing the mortal remains of comrade Siza to the soil, let us all commit to ourselves to the mission of peace and reconciliation expressed in the message to the nation by President Jacob Zuma during the Day of Reconciliation celebrations at the Freedom Park yesterday.
To the bereaved family, please find solace from the knowledge that the entire movement share in your grief. The entire family of the progressive movement, the government of Gauteng and the people of this province share in your loss. To us who knew him well and to his peers, we are more than convinced that he has left an indelible mark.
In conclusion, let me say, that death robbed us one of our stalwarts. And, somewhat in an oblique manner, his life is an affirmation of what Thomas Edison spoke about when he said: "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." That is how comrade Siza acquitted himself; always trying.
Comrade Siza fought the good fight, he finished the race, and he has kept the faith. It is now for those of us who remain behind to take over his baton and complete this proverbial relay race.
Issued by Gauteng Office of the Premier , December 17 2011
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