Funeral Service in Honour of Ms Mamello Elizabeth Sekhoacha
- Tribute By
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party

Umlazi: 22 October 2011

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” We gather today to honour the life of a very special woman. Mamello Elizabeth Sekhoacha has stepped into eternity, and we who are left behind have the duty of remembering her contribution, her character and the impact she had on our lives. It is not difficult to bring to mind many memories we could share. What is difficult, is the pain we feel in losing her.

Ms Sekhoacha was not a woman of many words. Yet she was a woman of great depth and courage. In all the years I knew her, she gave me very good counsel on issues affecting our Party. We have faced many problems as a Party and it has not always been easy to chart a way forward. We have relied on our collegial wisdom, which has taken us through 36 years of political turmoil and social upheaval. And our vision remains intact. This is because our collegial wisdom is the sum of individuals like Ms Mamello Sekhoacha.

I had no hesitation in recommending her to be a member of the IFP’s National Council. She has always been a staunch and loyal member of our Party. Even when she retired from teaching, she took up a temporary position in our offices, so that she continued to serve the Party even in her retirement. She, like me, never felt that putting up your feet and folding your hands is a viable option for people who love their country. There is too much work still to be done.

It was her work ethic that inspired those around her. In the many years she served in the teaching profession, she gained the respect of both her colleagues and her students. Many young people passed through her hands, and she equipped them to make their own contribution to our country. One of those she taught is Dr Ben Ngubane, the prominent patriot who is now Chairman of the Board of the SABC. And there are many other prominent citizens who went through her hands.

I know that her colleagues held her in high esteem for her professionalism and exemplary courage. She was not satisfied with standing on the sidelines, hoping for something better for South Africa. She got involved in the liberation of our country. She accepted the responsibility of shaping the future. Ms Sekhoacha was one more example of how false the accusation is that the IFP was a Zulu party as she was not Zulu- speaking.

Since it’s inception in 1975 our Party has been accused of being a Zulu ethnic organization. But the ones making this accusation have always been our detractors. The truth is that Inkatha ye Nkululeko ye Sizwe grew so quickly and spread so widely that the Apartheid Government became concerned. In September 1977, just two years after Inkatha was formed, I was summoned to Pretoria by the then Minister of Justice, Police and Prisons, Mr Jimmy Kruger.

Minister Kruger tried to intimidate me into accepting only Zulu-speaking people into Inkatha. I told him that as long as the National Party takes whites of all ethnic groups as members, I had the same right to recruit Africans of all ethnic groups into Inkatha. Many different people were drawn into our Party, because the vision of a liberated South Africa achieved through non-violence and negotiations resonated with people of every extraction.

Ms Sekhoacha was one of those who agreed with non-violence. She agreed that South Africa had to change, and she agreed that it could only happen through the personal commitment of individuals to a collective cause. I thank God that she chose the IFP. She gave an enormous contribution to our Party. I will forever be grateful to her for helping forge the legacy of the IFP.

She has left her own legacy, as well. It is a legacy of courage and love. We who are left behind acknowledge her life’s work and thank God for the years He lent her to us. As the President of the IFP, I also thank the Sekhoacha family for supporting her commitment to our Party. I know that when one serves in a political position, it is often one’s family that makes the greatest sacrifice. For politics is not a 9 to 5 job, 5 days a week. It is a calling that demands tremendous energy, time and sacrifice.

As we gather to pay our last respects to Ms Mamello Elizabeth Sekhoacha, my sympathy and prayers are for her family, her friends and her many colleagues who will miss her in the years to come. I am missing her already. She was a very special person, and we mourn our loss. I remember again the words of Christ, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”