Former president Kgalema Motlanthe addresses Raymond Mhlaba Annual lecture at NMMU

SEPTEMBER 29, 2015

Former President Kgalema Motlanthe will deliver the keynote address titled “A struggle for ethical transparent and accountable society’’ at the Raymond Mhlaba Annual Memorial Lecture on Tuesday at 6pm in the Vodacom Indoor Sports Centre at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).

Now in its seventh year, former president Thabo Mbeki delivered the inaugural lecture in 2008 and President Jacob Zuma addressed a large audience the following year. Motlanthe will then be the third president to deliver a keynote address in memory of the struggle stalward, Raymond Mhlaba.  

Mhlaba – also known as Oom Ray - was born in Mazoka village in the Fort Beaufort district and was educated at Healdtown Secondary School. He started working at a laundry in Port Elizabeth after leaving school. There he was introduced to trade unionism through the Non-European Laundry Workers Union.

In 1943, he joined the South African Communist Party (SACP), and in 1944 became a member of the African National Congress. He was one of the ANC leaders arrested during the transport boycott of 1952 when he led a group of volunteers into the "Europeans Only" entrance of the New Brighton police station in Port Elizabeth.

He was the district secretary of the Communist Party from 1946 until it was banned in 1950. He was chairman of the Port Elizabeth branch of the ANC from 1947 to 1953, and was then elected to the Cape Executive committee.

After the ANC was banned, he joined other exiles in obtaining military training in China. Returning to South Africa in 1962, he commanded Umkhonto we Sizwe until 1963, when he was arrested along with other key members at a farm in Rivonia.

After his release from prison in October 1989, he was elected to the ANC national executive and the SACP central committee. He became national chairperson of the organisation in 1995.

In January 1994 he was chosen as the ANC's nominee as premier of the Eastern Cape, and in May 1994 was elected to that post. He helped to establish the house of traditional leaders. He then became the High Commissioner to Uganda and Rwanda, until his retirement in 2001.

He was seen as a stalwart member of both the ANC and the SACP. He was recognised with the Isitwalandwe Medal in 1992 for his role in the liberation struggle. He also received the Moses Kotane Award in 2002 for his contribution.

NMMU’s ties with the Mhlaba family were forged when the former University of Port Elizabeth’s School of Public Administration and Management’s (SPAM) was renamed as the Raymond Mhlaba Research Unit of Public Administration and Leadership. He was also awarded an honorary doctoral degree in public administration by the former PE Technikon.

Enquiries: Amanda Bikitsi on [email protected] or on 041 504 2925.