Tributes paid to son of soil Msimang

Gugu Mtshali speaking at the memorial service of former ANC treasurer-general Mendi Msimang who died this week at the age of 90./ THULANI MBELE
Gugu Mtshali speaking at the memorial service of former ANC treasurer-general Mendi Msimang who died this week at the age of 90./ THULANI MBELE

Friends and family of the late ANC stalwart Mendi Msimang gathered yesterday at Turbine Hall in Johannesburg to celebrate his life.

Msimang died on Monday after a long illness.

The service was attended by ANC bigwigs and union leaders, including Mathews Phosa, Kgalema Motlanthe and Gauteng premier David Makhura.

The venue was decorated in ANC colours while a picture slide showing moments shared between Msimang and his family played out in the background.

Msimang's former PA Gugu Mtshali, who is married to Motlanthe, described him as a hard worker and a perfectionist.

Msimang, a former ANC treasurer-general, also served as SA's high commissioner in London from 1995 until 1998. He was the widower of the late Manto Tshabalala-Msimang who served as health minster.

"He was hands on and cared about people," said Mtshali.

She said Msimang was a father figure to those who worked under him.

"Uncle Mendi and I worked together for 10 beautiful and fruitful years. During this time I came to know the man who became my hero," she said.

Mtshali recalled special moments, including when Msimang gave a heart-warming speech at her wedding. Motlanthe said SA had lost one of its most distinguished sons.

He said Msimang was among the first leaders to leave the country after the banning of the ANC by the apartheid regime.

He described Msimang as a servant of the people and a thoroughly respectable man.

Tetekin Viacheslav, who spoke on behalf of the Russian Communist Party, said the loss was also felt by the people of Russia.

"I must tell you that this is not only a loss for South Africans but for his friends in Russia," Viacheslav said.

He said Msimang helped build the ANC into a strong political party, adding that he was modest but determined in his resolve to fight for his country's freedom.

"He was not only a warm person but he possessed a great sense of humour. I would like to thank comrade Mendi for his comradeship and his contribution towards the liberation struggle."

Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi said Msimang was a humble and humane leader.

She said Msimang led by example and inspired many to pursue liberation.

"We are inspired to be associated with such a leader. This is a leader who was in charge of finances but was never caught in corruption."

Lozi said Msimang was one of the leaders who developed the ANC into an organisation which works for the people. Msimang was born on December 8 1928 in Marshalltown, Johannesburg. His association with the ANC began during the 1940s.

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