Statement on the reburial of Moses Mabhida
30 November 2006
State President, Mr Thabo Mbeki will join thousands of South Africans who will converge at Harry Gwala Stadium, Pietermaritzburg this Saturday, 02 December 2006, to honour and pass their last respect to the icon of our struggle, Moses Mbheki Mncane Mabhida.
The body of Madevu, as he was affectionately known by his colleagues and comrades especially in exile, will lie in state at the stadium from 09h45 to 13h00.
This historical and remarkable funeral in our lifetime will also be attended by cabinet ministers, Premiers, MECs, senior government officials, the clergy, senior leaders of political formations especially from the African National Congress (ANC), South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). Mabhida was a leader of note in all these organisations including COSATU's predecessor, the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU).
He died and was buried in Maputo, Mozambique in March 1986. In 1985, while on a mission to Havana, he suffered a stroke, and after a year of illness, he died of a heart attack. President Samora Machel of Mozambique honoured Mabhida with a state funeral.
His embalmed body was brought back in the country last week from Maputo by the government of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), led by Premier Sibusiso Ndebele. It was affirmation of one of the Premier's key undertakings during his first State of the Province Address in 2004.
President Mbeki's eulogy will be preceded by messages from Premier Ndebele and leaders of the ANC-led alliance.
In recognition of this outstanding leader and freedom fighter, a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South African government bestowed this giant with the Baobab Award posthumously, for his fearless and tireless efforts struggling to change our country for the better. Indeed, today, all South Africans, black and white enjoy these freedoms enshrined in the Freedom Charter and our constitution, of which Mabhida sacrificed for in his entire life.
The cortege will then leave at 13h00 for reburial at Slangespruit Heroes Acre, which is closer to Mabhida's homestead, where his body will be laid to rest. Only family members and national leadership will attend this service. Other mourners will have to leave stadium to their respective destinations once the cortege leaves for reburial.
The Heroes Acre is an initiative of the KZN Provincial Government to remember and salute the heroes of the past. Mabhida will be the first to be buried there.
We call on all our people come and pay their last respects to one of the pillars of struggle.
Other logistical arrangements
No vehicles including the media will be allowed to join the cortege.
Members of the media will have a demarcated zone at the stadium, of which access will be strictly to accredited members of the media. You are therefore reminded to submit all requirements to Jeff Hassan not later than 4pm, November 29, 2006 by telephone, or email him on email@example.com.
Accreditation will be collected on Saturday at the stadium from 7.30am – until 9am.
Transport to the burial site
Members of the media will ferry by the funeral organisers' bus coach from the stadium to Slangspruit Heroes Acre. Further details on this matter will be conveyed at the stadium.
For further information, please contact:
Cell: 082 884 1488
Please find abridged obituary below
Moses MnCane Mbheki "Madevu" Mabhida
(1923 – 1986)
Moses Mabhida was born near Pietermaritzburg on 14 October 1923, into a peasant family which was later forced off the land. Mabhida was drawn to trade unionism and joined the Communist Party in 1942. After many unionists were banned in 1952-1953, his colleagues in the newly revived underground party urged Mabhida to undertake fulltime union work. In the next decade, he organised scores of workers in Natal. He was a central participant in the development of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) and was elected a vice-president at its first congress in 1955. He also served as secretary of the ANC's Pietermaritzburg branch in the mid-1950s, and had a close working relationship with Chief Albert Luthuli. Mabhida became a member of the ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC) around 1956, and in 1958-1959 was acting chair of the Natal ANC.
A week after the declaration of the 1960 state of emergency, Mabhida was sent abroad by SACTU to represent the organisation internationally. For the next three years he organised international solidarity activities in Prague with the World Federation of Trade Unions, and with the developing African trade union federations. In 1963, following his re-election to the NEC at the ANC's Lobatse conference in October 1962, he was asked by Oliver Tambo to devote himself to the development of the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). Mabhida then underwent military training; as MK commissar he became the chief political instructor of new military recruits, and later served as the commander of MK. Mabhida's repeated re-election to the NEC, his appointment to the Revolutionary Council on its creation in 1969, and later to the Politico-Military Council which replaced it, reflected his popularity among ANC members.
After Morogoro, in 1969, he was instrumental in setting up the ANC's department of Intelligence and Security. He was elected General Secretary of the Communist Party in November 1979, replacing Moses Kotane who had died the previous year. In the 1980s, Mabhida continued his work with political and logistical planning for MK, based at various times in Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland. In 1985, while on a mission to Havana, Mabhida suffered a stroke, and after a year of illness, died of a heart attack in Maputo and was buried there in March 1986.
South Africans expressed deep appreciation to the leadership of Frelimo and the people of Mozambique for giving a piece of their land that served as a shroud for Moses Mabhida for the past 20 years.
Issued by: Office of the Premier, KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government
30 November 2006