Statement by Premier Sihle Zikalala on the passing of former Premier, Ambassador Dr Frank Themba Mdlalose
It is with the greatest sadness and an immense sense of loss that we have learnt of the news of the passing of the first democratically elected Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Frank Mdlalose.
As the Government of KwaZulu-Natal we mourn the passing of this giant leader of the people of our province.
The passing of Dr Mdlalose comes a few days before we celebrate the 27th year since the country chose a people's democracy based on non-racialism, non-sexism and the equality of all human beings.
Dr Mdlalose sits among the rare breed of civil servants who sacrificed their potentially lucrative careers as full-time medical doctors to dedicate their lives to the service of our nation. By so doing, he entered a world of uncertainty and one which was marked by twists and turns.
While conditions may threaten to overwhelm, they also define leaders who are suited to the time, as Dr Mdlalose was for the transition from apartheid to democracy.
The period of the late 80s to the 90s was one of the most painful in the life of KwaZulu Natal, witnessing some of the most violent confrontation between the ANC and the IFP. Thousands were killed on either side in a war that was later described as having been fuelled by a so-called third hand.
This period required the calm and visionary leadership of leaders on either side such as Nelson Mandela and the strategic intervention of people such as Dr Mdlalose in KwaZulu-Natal.
Following the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, Dr Mdlalose worked tirelessly with ANC leaders in efforts to stop the violence between ANC and Inkatha supporters. Dr Mdlalose served as a member of the National Peace Committee, an organ of multiple parties which sought to cement peace in the country and especially KwaZulu-Natal.
In 1991 Dr Mdlalose, together with then ANC Chairperson of Southern Natal Jacob Zuma, led the first peace efforts between their two parties when they set up the Peace and Reconstruction Foundation. This laid the first foundation stone for peace that up to this day prevails between the ANC and the IFP.
Dr Mdlalose was a leader with eyes fixed firmly on the masses of our people and extending beyond the party line. He believed fervently, that peace was a necessary condition not only for successful national and provincial elections, but for the socio-economic development of the people of the province.
We will remember Dr Mdlalose for his prominent role as leader and negotiator during the Codesa negotiations which were held at Kempton Park and eventually led to the 1994 elections. Following the democratic elections, Dr Mdlalose was elected Premier. In 1996 Dr Mdlalose was appointed by President Mandela to become South Africa's Ambassador to Egypt.
Born in the Northern KwaZulu-Natal village of Nquthu on 29 November 1931, Dr Mdlalose would have turned 90 this year.
Dr Mdlalose sharpened his academic prowess at the University of Fort Hare where he obtained a BSc degreein 1952 and a University Education Diploma in 1953. In his formative years, Dr Mdlalose was a member of the ANC Youth League before becoming one of the founding members of the IFP in 1975, together with IFP President Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
On behalf of the government and people of KwaZulu-Natal, we wish to convey our deepest condolences to the Mdlalose family on the passing of this tireless servant of our people.
Dr Mdlalose was a catalyst for change and a development oriented politician. He saw medicine not as separate,but as intertwined with the struggle to improve the conditions of society.
This was described aptly by the famous German physician who proclaimed that "medicine as the science of human beings, has the obligation to point out problems and to attempt their theoretical solution: the politician, the practical anthropologist, must find the means for their actual solution.
The physicians are the natural attorneys of the poor, and social problems fall to a large extent within their jurisdiction".
To Dr Mdlalose's family we wish to express the gratitude of the people of KwaZulu Natal for the life-time of service given by Dr Mdlalose as a community doctor and a dedicated but humble servant of the people of our province.
KwaZulu-Natal owes Dr Mdlalose immensely for his unquantifiable contribution to peace and prosperity in the province and for his role as the country's ambassador abroad. From his life, we will draw many lessons such as that of true servant leadership, self-sacrifice, unending patience and humility when dealing with the people.
May Dr Mdlalose's family draw strength during this time knowing that his was a life lived fully,and with an indelible legacy.
May His Soul Rest in Peace.
Hamba Kahle Nyanda yephahla,Khwenta, Madlula,