Andrew Mlangeni a rare breed of leaders - biographer

Andrew Mlangeni
Andrew Mlangeni

The author of Andrew Mlangeni’s biography Mandla Mathebula has described the late stalwart a leader who was selfless till the end, not harbouring any ambition for power and wealth.

Mathebula, who authored Mlangeni’s biography titled Backroom Boy, said Mlangeni lived for the liberation of the people and refused to be distracted by anything.

“He was very principled. The struggle for freedom to him meant a struggle for his people. He sacrificed a lot not wanting to gain anything in return. You will notice that after democracy, he did not occupy very prominent positions in government but remained loyal to the ANC and the people. He remained a workaholic without necessarily wanting to capture the biggest position in government and in the party. He had no ambition of being filthy rich. He remained an ordinary person,” he said.

Mathebula said it was not even easy persuading Mlangeni that a book must be written about him because he did not believe that he should show off about his contribution to the Struggle.

He said Mlangeni declined several journalists and academics who wanted to write his biography before agreeing to Mathebula's proposal.

 “I was fortunate that he liked me from the first day he saw me. His foundation and another comrade Pat Baloyi played a role in convincing him to allow me to write the biography. I felt that he agreed to my proposal because I was just an ordinary person,” Mathebula said.

Mathebula said Mlangeni was a special breed of leaders who served people without expecting anything in return.

“He represented that breed of political leaders who are loyal to the people, the Struggle and the course of freedom. He belonged to a breed of leaders who did not like glitz and glamour or the limelight. He preferred working very hard in the background and to be productive from the background.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Mlangeni’s death on Wednesday morning.

Ramaphosa said Mlangeni, who recently celebrated his 95th birthday, died overnight following a brief hospitalisation at 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria. He was taken there on Tuesday night after complaining about abdominal pains. He was the last remaining Rivonia trialist following the death of his comrades who he went on trial with between 1963 and 1964.

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