FORMER MEC IN THE PROVINCE OF KWAZULU NATAL
PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP
FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT EMERITUS OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
With this morning’s passing of the Hon. Dr Meshack Radebe, the entire province of KwaZulu Natal has suffered a loss. On behalf of the Inkatha Freedom Party, I extend our deepest sympathies to the African National Congress, for Dr Radebe was a loyal member and leader in the ANC. But I know that this loss goes well beyond the ANC.
Dr Radebe was a friend of peace and a champion of reconciliation. He was one of the few whose commitment to reconciliation between the IFP and the ANC was genuinely and openly expressed.
I recall his intervention during the black-on-black violence of the eighties and early nineties, particularly in the violence-torn township of Hammarsdale. The ANC’s mission-in-exile commissioned him to engage negotiations with Inkatha’s representative in Hammarsdale, Mr Sipho Mlaba. Together, they quelled the violence and saved our people from the ravages of bloodshed.
It was thus wholly appropriate for the University of Cape Town to bestow upon Dr Radebe an honorary doctorate for his commitment to peace in KwaZulu Natal. His commitment made us friends, and our friendship lasted for many years, long after democracy was achieved. I was proud of his appointment as MEC for Social Development and watched him serve in the Provincial Legislature with integrity and excellence.
It haunts me to know that our last meeting was just months ago in Durban, when we shared a meal in Durban in celebration of Mr Sibusiso Ncube’s birthday. Now both Mr Ncube and Dr Radebe are no more. It is difficult to accept this onslaught of grief.
I can only thank the Lord that I had a chance to pay tribute to Dr Radebe while he was still alive, in the presence of his family and friends. Speaking at his 70th birthday in 2019, I expressed my gratitude for all that he has done to further reconciliation talks between the IFP and the ANC.
With his passing, I am left in despair. Without his voice of reason coaxing his comrades to the path of reconciliation, will this journey ever be completed?
In this time of increasing sorrow and loss, I send my condolences to Dr Radebe’s family. We pray that they will be comforted and find strength, knowing the Dr Meshack Radebe surely rests in peace. For as the Lord Himself said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”