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Tribute to Andrew Mlangeni: champion against corruption

On 21 July 2020, the last remaining Rivonia trialist Andrew Mokete Mlangeni, who jailed with Nelson Mandela during the anti-apartheid struggle, died at the age of 95. Mahadi Buthelezi prays tribute to him as an example of morality and integrity, both in politics and in life.

Today we pay tribute to a fallen hero of our struggle and our moral guide. Ntate Mlangeni as he was affectionately known, stood like a soldier with an unwavering character and never compromised on issues of moral decay and degeneration. He was a Catholic and belonged to the Dube Parish of Our Lady of Fatima in Soweto.

I am proud as a Catholic today, to know that one of our own was incorruptible and played an important part in the fight for our freedom. He set a sterling example as a freedom fighter and was a champion against the corruption and moral degeneration of our leaders. Ntate Mlangeni is a role model for Catholics and people of integrity, offering encouragement to never bend to external pressures or succumb to corruption, even if others do.

He set a sterling example as a freedom fighter and was a champion against the corruption and moral degeneration of our leaders. 

His life offers an important testimony to our youth and our leaders.

Message to the Youth

Some of our youth today are impressed by fame and fortune at whatever cost! They believe in fake friendships and chasing fame regardless of their moral standing. May they learn the natural gestation period for success. Our youth are called to achieve success through hard work and learning, to acquire skills and wisdom so that they become leaders like Ntate Mlangeni. 

Always stand for the truth, at all costs. Ntate Mlangeni throughout his political career never fought for positions but proved himself a worthy leader over time.    

A challenge to political and business leaders

Over the past few weeks, I have followed reports of how government members awarded irregular and overpriced tenders for the purchase of personal protection equipment (PPEs). This has angered people and made them distrustful of leadership, whom they see as looking only after their own interests, at a time when the whole country should unite to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The poor, in particular, feel marginalised, as they face unemployment but the promised grant payments have been slow in coming.

Speaking at Rhodes University where he was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2018, Mlangeni said:

“Some of our political leaders have become absolutely corrupt – they are no longer interested in improving the lives of our people. They are busy lining their pockets with the money that is meant to help the poor people. What a disgrace! They have forgotten that many people died for this democracy that we are enjoying today. The percentage of our unemployed youth is very high, poverty is rampant, and there is no sign of an immediate solution.” 

As the chairperson of the ANC’s integrity commission, Mlangeni spoke to News24 in 2018 about his dismay at the corruption allegations that had been levelled against the ruling party. He noted that he would not hesitate to send even a friend to prison if he were to be found guilty of corruption.

I am somewhat disappointed that some of the looters named are friends. Do we reprimand them to uphold morality, good character and good governance? Or do we turn a blind eye or participating in corruption so that we can also profit? We are truly challenged when faced with moral degeneration of our colleagues in business or any other area. 

Ntate Mlangeni’s integrity stands as a reminder when we are tempted to step out of line or remain silent because we have accepted corruption.

Any business built on corruption might succeed for a time, but it will ultimately be headed for disaster. Diligence and good governance are the pillars and foundation of a sustainable business. True leadership is governed by ethical behaviour of the highest standard.

True leadership is governed by ethical behaviour of the highest standard.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen+

Rest In Peace Seaparankwe! Robala ka khotso Motlokwa!

* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.