Introductory Comments by Hon MB Gwala MPL, IFP Natioanl Chairman and IFP Leader in the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature at the Memorial Service for the Late Hon Dr LPHM Mtshali on Thursday, 17 December 2015 at the Pinetown Civic Centre, Durban
Acknowledgement of the Mtshali Family, Guests Present & the IFP Family at Large
A giant oak tree has fallen at a time when South Africa most needs its shade. In place of its comforting shade we meet under a dark cloud of sadness. We gather here today with heavy hearts to pay tribute to a true Son of the Soil, a true leader in the IFP and a giant among leaders on the political stage in South Africa.
I remember Dr Mtshali from the time when I was still a student and he used to visit our school in his capacity as Inspector of Schools. I not only got to know him better, but got to admire him as a leader when I worked alongside him in the IFP.
Today we celebrate the life of a man who held various positions of authority in our province and in our country.
Dr Lionel Percivel Hercules Mbeki Mtshali was the longest serving Premier of KwaZulu-Natal having served in that capacity from 1998 to 2004.
He also served our people in the following positions
- National Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology from 1996 to 1998.
- Member of the National Assembly from 1994 to 1998.
- Minister of Education and Culture in KZN from 1990 to 1994.
- Circuit Inspector in the Department of Education and Culture from 1975 to 1983.
- School Principal from 1962 to 1972
- School Teacher from 1960 to 1972
Dr Mtshali was outspoken and never afraid to give voice to his beliefs. But in being outspoken and speaking truth to power, he remained dignified and courteous. He was blessed with oratory skills that made people sit up and take note of what he was saying. When Dr Mtshali would rise to speak in the Legislature, he held the attention of every member in the House. His remarkable memory, striking recall of details and the vibrant the manner in which he would articulate his thoughts demanded attention. Apart from being articulate, he was a good listener who was patient in hearing others points of view.
Dr Mtshali was known for his immense sense of respect and dignified mannerisms. He was strict on protocol and attention to detail.
His devotion to duty in whatever position he held drew admiration and applause. He was a game-changer, never afraid to swim against the tide of mediocrity if it would benefit our people. He was a relentless fighter for the voiceless and downtrodden.
Thousands of mothers and their children are alive in South Africa today thanks to Dr Mtshali who leaves a legacy after having joining the Treatment Action Campaign in taking the national Government to the Constitutional Court and proving that a government could fairly easily and cost effectively, prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/Aids through the provision of anti-retrovirals.
Literally, he save thousands of lives.
Throughout his tenure in public life, Dr Mtshali was never embroiled in any controversy nor linked to any forms of corruption or maladministration. As Premier of KwaZulu-Natal he held a tight grip on the affairs of the province and ensured there was service delivery to our people under a clean administration.
Yes, there were those who did not like him because he stood firm to his commitment of serving the people of South Africa with honesty, integrity and dedication. He never faltered as a public servant and demanded the highest level of administrative excellence coupled with integrity and dedication to duty.
Let us not forget that Dr Mtshali was also a devoted family man. He was a caring husband and a loving father. In spite of the rigours of public life, Matshinga would make time to spend with his family.
While we as the IFP family are poorer now, we thank God for blessing us with this exemplary leader who enriched our Party and the nation. He will be remembered as a dedicated leader in the IFP, a skilled administrator and an exceptional South African. We in the IFP are immensely proud that we have had the honour of having Dr Mtshali as one of our most respected leaders.
May his soul rest in peace.