A tribute to an honourable comrade

Date: 10 November 2019   Read: 33711

Sello Madima writes:

Dudley Malete, affectionately known as “Coach”, passed on to another life on 31 October 2019. He will be buried at the Tshikota Cemetery on Saturday, 9 November.

He was an African at heart and understood that he came from the great African civilization as attested by reputable historical records about Egypt, the Nile Basin, the Sudan and Ethiopia. He agreed with Chancellor Williams on the destruction of black civilization, the attack on Afro-centricity and the ushering in of Euro-centricity. He understood that all other civilisations have Africa as the cradle of mankind. He knew the dance between Mandela of the 60s and that of the 90s, right to our present day and its implications. This dance between the past, present and its implications for the future characterised his life’s purpose.

His life, like that of all other beings from the downside of history since 1652, was punctuated with ups and downs and a conscious effort to create meaning in the national liberation and restorative project. He opted to advance the liberation cause through the African National Congress (ANC) and its alliance partners as his political home.

He lost his innocence at Tshiawelo High School where he served in the student representative council under repressive circumstances. Repression did not deter him. He would seek information on the liberation struggles and Christian ethics at a time where such material was viewed as subversive. He knew that a cause he committed his life to was marred with contests for ideas, power and influence, a cause that played a role in his untimely death. To this end, the fire that boiled in his mother since 1975 when she joined the ANC clandestinely through Mrs Mokaba, who was a social worker at the time, shaped his consciousness and conviction in pursuit of justice and building a peaceful and united South Africa.

Shaped by the harshness of oppression on one hand, and commitment to justice on the other, as a young man, he followed his mother when it was not fashionable to openly oppose sources of oppression and those who advanced it. The 1980s journey with opposition to forceful removal aimed at the final spatial segregational push saw Dudley,  through the Vleifontein Crisis Committee and then the Vleifontein Youth Organisation (Vleyco), with Abram Luruli at the helm, giving himself to mobilise members of the community for resistance to integration into the then Republic of Venda homeland/Bantustan. We were not paid for the role we played; it was a matter of conviction and money was not a factor. We were motivated by the love of our country and our people.

While the 80s and early 90s were simple in political positioning in the “for” or “against” paradigm, this gave him a taste of what would become of the movement of his love post 1994, with intraparty tensions and conflicts becoming a norm and accepted as key aspects of real politics. His training ground was the Limpopo region of the Youth League where he served as a head of political education.

It was at this time that he extensively sourced political and economic material from this author for purposes of empowering members of the Youth League.

The height of his cause was given effect at Albasini Dam where, at Geofrey Tshibvumo’s birthday celebrations in the presence of Mr Itani Mafune, the late John Maswanganyi, Mjephy Makhado and Sello Madima was lobbied and accepted to stand for councillorship and effectively became a role player in local, provincial and national governance structures, with same repeated in the structure of the ANC.

Unbeknown to him, a contest had emerged with conviction on one hand and popularity on the other. A contest had emerged between those who sought productive development on one hand and those that sought predatory and parasitic success on the other. The inauguration of populism hinged on funded propaganda and politics of patronage created a sour spot in his political career. Dudley became a political casualty post the Polokwane conference that resulted in the formation of COPE where Geofrey and Mr Sikhutshi once served. Dudley continued to have effective communication with the duo, hoping that one day they would get back to the ANC.

As is the case with all lives, he understood that political conviction is not only performative and declaratory. He stood his ground as a disciplined member of the ANC, working hard towards organisational renewal. Nineteen years later, after he lost his formal job and all that went with it, once more, on the advice of this author and his mother he got elected chairperson of the Vleifontein SANCO branch with the aim of rebuilding quality against emergent mediocrity and personality cults.

Dudley understood that his cause like history and her-story can be a chapter of accidents, political events and finance capital induced political waves would become a key feature in the South African political landscape. He knew and understood that, on his journey there would be a “series of events” determined by chance coincidences. For him, Polokwane became that moment, similar to the moment that saw Leon Trotsky exiled arising from differences with Joseph Stalin. As was reported, Leon Trotsky’s cause of death is assassination.

Through Polokwane Dudley learnt that money can cause compromises in principles and wipe off the memory of yesterday’s friends, or at best cause yesterday’s friends to be treated as someone with leprosy. He experienced isolation and a political wilderness and the embarrassment that come with pity and handouts even from those who were well meaning. He was gracious in all gestures of good will. Though welcomed he said: “the pain is deep, a man is to be independent”.

Since life is not only physical and objective, but metaphysical as well, he embraced the fact that metaphysics would always have a role in politics. He, however, opted to hold an objective and scientific view as a guide to his life’s endeavours. Central to our last conversation was that disciplined members of the ANC and those who, like him, were political casualties must be mobilised back into the ANC to restore a movement of his choice to what it once was.

We know you will rest not in peace until in honour of your conviction, and your memory, a semblance of stability is restored to the ANC. You honoured your mother and family, and you became a friend to your daughter - Surprise. Your spirit and ideas we carry. You understood as popularised by Dr P Ragimana that “U shumela vhathu ndi u shumela Mudzimu. And u shumela Mudzimu ndi u shumela vhathu

Your brother and friend,

Sello Madima



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