Eulogy by President Zuma at the official funeral of the late Minister of Public Service and Administration, Mr Roy Padayachie, at the Sahara Kingsmead Stadium, Durban
9 May 2012
Mrs Sally Padayachie and Family;
Former Deputy President, Ms Baleka Mbete;
Honourable Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, and all Esteemed Members of the Judiciary;
Honourable Ministers, Premiers and Deputy Ministers, MEC’s and Mayors;
Honourable Members of the African Peer Review Mechanism;
Ministers from all countries in the continent;
Honourable Members of the National Assembly, the National Council of Provinces and the KZN Legislature,
Leaders of political parties,
Honourable uMntwana wakwa Phindangene,
Leadership of the ANC, COSATU and SACP alliance,
Religious and traditional leaders;
Members of the diplomatic corps,
Members of the business community.
Fellow South Africans,
On 8 January 2012 we gathered in Mangaung in the Free State to mark the centenary of the African National Congress, the oldest liberation movement in the African continent. On that occasion we were not just celebrating an organisation.
We were celebrating the South African people, who made this country a shining example to the world, by defeating colonial oppression and apartheid, and thereafter rose above anger and hatred, to form a nation united in its diversity.
We scored that achievement through the dedication and commitment of remarkable freedom fighters who put South Africa first before their own personal circumstances and interests.
On this 9th day of May, the third anniversary of the inauguration of the fourth democratic President of the Republic, we gather sadly to bid farewell to one of these outstanding patriots who suffered so that we could be free, our beloved Minister for Public Service and Administration, Radhakrishna Lutchmana Padayachie, known to all of us affectionately as Comrade Roy.
We are honoured to testify today that we knew this gentle, humble giant of our struggle for freedom. We knew this patriot who, hardly enjoyed comfort before the dawn of freedom, and who after the achievement of freedom in 1994, committed himself to the struggle to achieve a truly prosperous South Africa.
Last week, Comrade Roy went to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to attend a meeting of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a crucial African Union (AU) programme that promotes good governance and democracy. As a democrat and freedom fighter, he wanted to see democracy and good governance entrenched throughout the continent, hence his dedication to the APRM.
He was due to return to South Africa on Sunday, 6 May 2012. But it was not to be. We lost him on Friday night. A gallant freedom fighter had taken his leave of us, leaving us shocked and in despair.
It has been almost a week since Comrade Roy departed.
Yet our hearts have not ceased throbbing under the unbearable pain of losing this brother, friend and comrade who loved this country and its people so dearly.
Today we are gathered not to mourn, but to celebrate the life he lived in pursuit of freedom, justice, human rights, democracy and prosperity. We reflect on his activism as a young student here in Durban, where he worked closely with a small group of activists, including Pravin Gordhan, Yunus Mahomed, Yusuf Vawda and others.
Armed with the Freedom Charter and also the Black Consciousness philosophy, they turned the Indian University at Salisbury Island, which later became the University of Durban-Westville, into a hive of political activity.
They were highly politically trained and organised, and could skilfully form structures that combined both overt civic campaigns and clandestine African National Congress (ANC) activities. This group mobilised students, workers, and neighbouring communities in Phoenix, Chatsworth, Lamontville, Chesterville and others around several issues.
That activism kept the spirit of the congress movement alive under difficult political conditions and repression in the 70s and early 80s.
It provided fertile ground for the formation of community and civic organisations. It also prepared the ground for the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) years later.
The revival of the Natal Indian Congress by others including Mewa Ramgobin and George Sewpersadh also provided a vehicle for the banned ANC to do underground work.
Comrade Roy Padayachie worked intensively with this group and within the Natal Indian Congress, doing mobilisation work that attracted the security police who hounded him, making a normal family life almost impossible.
His dear wife Sally and their daughters suffered greatly. However, Comrade Sally has always understood that her husband was also married to the struggle, and that he would not rest until freedom had been attained.
Given his political activism at the time, it is amazing that Minister Padayachie completed his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Durban-Westville. It demonstrates his supreme intellectual abilities.
Compatriots and friends,
We have lost a friend, a brother, a comrade and a man who truly loved this country and its people.
Some of us have lost more than a Cabinet colleague. My first encounter with Comrade Roy occurred shortly after my release from Robben Island in December 1973, together with Sunny Singh, Judson Khuzwayo, Kirsten Moonsamy among others.
Comrade Roy drove me to my first medical check-up at King Edward Hospital in 1974 to ensure that I was in good health, following my release from the Island.
He later drove me to several meetings and activities in days to come. He asked a lot of probing questions, and shared extremely good ideas about what we needed to do to advance the struggle under those difficult political conditions.
Since we spent so much time together, I came to know him better and to appreciate his political acumen and commitment to the struggle, this country and its people. He became a friend, a brother and a comrade that I could depend on for underground political work.
I later went into exile and Comrade Roy went to study at the University of London, where he completed a Masters Degree in Agricultural Economics. He interacted with comrades such as President Oliver Tambo, Yusuf Dadoo, Aziz Pahad, and others.
The stay in London deepened his political education and consciousness. He underwent intensive political education and came back to Durban more empowered about the ANC and its policies. He became even more of an asset to the Natal Indian Congress and to the clandestine work of the ANC.
Compatriots and friends,
In paying tribute to Comrade Roy, we reflect on some outstanding attributes that he and his peers displayed. One of these, was the fact that they never regarded their activism as warranting positions in the ANC or in government.
They never marketed themselves as possible members of the ANC National Executive Committee or as members of cabinet. They were happy to work in the background as long as work was done to advance the struggle for freedom and a better life for all.
Some people in this country may not even have known Comrade Roy’s illustrious political career and contribution, simply because he never saw the need to make this known. He was satisfied with the fact that the freedom he sacrificed much for had been achieved.
We will always remember this trait of humility and placing the needs of the country before one’s own. This was evident even when he was deployed in government. He stood ready to serve the country in whatever capacity. To him, government was an extension of the struggle he had waged for freedom and a better life.
In 2004 to 2009, Comrade Roy joined government as Deputy Minister of Communications. He was Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration from 2009 to 2010, Minister of Communications from 2010 to 2011 and as Minister for Public Service and Administration from October 2011 until the time of his passing.
He made his mark in each portfolio. In the Communications portfolio, he used the opportunity to bridge the digital divide. He was often seen in remote areas delivering computers to poor schools.
He also worked hard to establish telecentres so that the children of the poor can have access to communication facilities such as the internet, faxes and others. Comrade Roy was determined to expand access to broadcasting services to remote areas as well.
We discovered places in this country that had never had television reception through Minister Padayachie’s hard work. He was equally passionate about expanding banking services to the poor. He wanted Postbank to become a bank of first choice for communities that have little or no access to commercial banking services or facilities.
In 2011, when he was appointed Minister of Public Service and Administration, I gave him the task of creating a caring public service that was responsive to the needs of the people. As a consummate political activist, he knew what the public service of a free, democratic South Africa should be like, for us to be able to say things were changing for the better.
At the time of his passing, he was busy with strategies of improving the recruitment, career-pathing and the retention of skills in the public service to create the ideal public service for a developmental state.
Comrade Padayachie was also busy with public service wage negotiations.
As agreed in the previous round of negotiations, he planned to negotiate a Multi-term Agreement whose aim was to ensure labour peace, and create room for government to implement resolutions that were agreed upon at the Public Service Collective Bargaining Council level.
We certainly looked forward to a peaceful negotiations season, under this skilful negotiator and activist.
Fellow South Africans and friends,
We always urge members of parliament to be in touch with their constituencies. For many communities, their constituency MP is the only source of assistance when they are in distress. Minister Padayachie was an accessible, diligent and exemplary outstanding Member of Parliament for his constituency, Tongaat and surrounding areas. Despite his heavy ministerial schedule, he still made time for the people of his constituency.
He wanted to do a lot for his constituency. He had several items in his project plan which includes a Service Delivery Forum, a frail care centre, a museum for 1860 artefacts, a Thusong Centre and a job creation project on which he was working with the department of Trade and Industry.
The people are mourning the loss of a great MP and leader that they could always call upon for help.
Compatriots and friends,
The passing on of Comrade Padayachie has robbed us of a father, a grandfather, a husband, a brother, a friend, a colleague, a visionary, a leader and a servant of the people.
But those of us whom he has left behind, must be comforted by the knowledge that he has played his part in liberating us and in shaping our lives in positive dimensions beyond April 1994.
We are reminded as we pay our final tribute to Comrade Roy, that the struggle that he and many others waged so bravely and so selflessly was not in vain.
It was a struggle to achieve freedom, democracy and human rights for all. That has been achieved. It was also a struggle for all the people of South Africa, to live in a society without poverty, inequality and unemployment. He left us in the middle of this phase of struggle.
When he launched the Peace Pillar Memorial in Tongaat in November 2010, Comrade Roy uttered words that can easily be regarded as referring to his own life and contribution to our country.
He said; “The monument is a poignant reminder of the richness of our past, the arduous struggle and sacrifices of our forebears and the immensely rich cultural and spiritual foundations of all our peoples in South Africa.
“It is a powerful reminder of the lifetimes of selfless service to the cause of freedom that our pioneering forefathers and freedom fighters suffered to bring about the democracy that we cherish today.”
Indeed, today we celebrate his selfless contribution and how he suffered to bring about the democracy we cherish today. We can only be richer through borrowing from his legacy.
We have learned from him the importance of loving our country and its people, and putting South Africa first in everything we do. We have learned the importance of working for peace and the unity of all our people. We have learned from his friendly disposition that all South Africans are important and can make a difference in building a great South Africa.
We have learned that we should never forget the plight of the poor and the disadvantaged, as he prioritized them in every deployment and any assignment he was given. He never lost track of the mission of his organization.
More importantly, we have learned the importance of unwavering loyalty, discipline and respect as foundations for order and progress. As we mark the third anniversary of the fourth administration today, we recommit ourselves to building a nation that remains forever mindful of its history.
We recommit to building a nation that never forgets those who have sacrificed so much, and the many who put down their lives so we can be here today. We recommit to a nation filled with the laughter and joy of children.
A nation filled with hope, born of the knowledge that if we work together, we will achieve our dreams. Mrs Padayachie and family, allow me to extend, on behalf of the Deputy President, government and the people of South Africa, our deepest condolences.
Thank you for sharing this soldier and freedom fighter with the nation. He has made an indelible mark in this beautiful country that he loved so dearly!
I thank you!
Issued by: The Presidency
9 May 2012
[ Top ]