Movement had lost its way, former premier told friends
Speakers at the memorial service for former Eastern Cape premier the Rev Makhenkesi Stofile took the opportunity to hit at factionalism and divisions in the ANC.
Hundreds of those present – including politicians, academics, religious leaders and Stofile’s family – gasped when speakers said how disappointed and embarrassed Stofile had been about how the ANC had changed for the worse.
Stofile, who died of diabetes and pancreatic cancer at his Alice home on August 15, was remembered in an official memorial service at East London’s Christian Centre in Abbotsford.
First to fire a verbal salvo was outspoken Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, who said Stofile had died at a time when leaders of his calibre were needed most.
Speaking on behalf of Stofile’s family, he said the former sports minister and ambassador had died a man disappointed by ongoing fighting in the continent’s oldest liberation movement.
“He [died] at the wrong time in the sense of where we are as a revolutionary movement.
“More than ever we need him, that exceptional and selfless leader, to rescue our glorious movement from where it has gone astray.
“There can be no denying that our country is at a crossroads on many fronts, while many of the gains we have fought for over many decades are at risk,” Jonas said.
He called Stofile a critical thinker who never accepted the obvious.
“He confided in many of us [recently] his frustration that our revolution has lost its way. In particular he was concerned that we have a crisis of ideas about our predicament and where we are going.
“It is important to reflect on what he stood for, and how we can infuse these values back into the movement.”
Jonas said Stofile had always defended the tripartite alliance.
“He was saddened by the state of affairs in Cosatu and the unity of the alliance.
“He was deeply disappointed with the politics of individuals which he [called] the cult of personality,” Jonas said.
ANC stalwart Charles Nqakula said Stofile had told him recently: “Many of us who know where the ANC comes from are dying one by one because of the pain caused by troubles befalling our organisation.
“Despite how we are now treated, the path we have travelled for this liberation is known and was taught to us by the ANC.
“Even if we are sidelined today, history knows what people like Stofile has done for this liberation,” he said.