Remembering Ronnie Mamoepa

Late veteran government communicator, Ronnie Mamoepa, sought to make a difference wherever he served, says Communication Minister Ayanda Dlodlo.

He was fearless, dedicated and extremely hard working. He would and could not rest until the job was done, Minister Dlodlo said.

The Minister paid tribute to Mamoepa on Wednesday during a memorial service which was held at Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) in Hatfield, Pretoria.

On Saturday, South Africans retired for the night after receiving the tragic news of the death of this struggle veteran and dedicated civil servant. Mamoepa, 56, passed away after battling with complications following a stroke in June.

He was meticulous in his approach and insisted that those who worked with him gave their best at all times and more. He delivered excellence and superior communications products and expected the same from all of us including colleagues from the media, Minister Dlodlo said.

She described his attitude to his work and duties as sedulous, efficient, productive, committed, diligent, industrious, assiduous, and tireless.

According to the Minister, Mamoepa first came to prominence as a young teenage activist in the late 70's and 80's and was eventually jailed and served time on Robben Island.

He was a fierce and dedicated freedom fighter who never took a step back in fighting for the cause of liberation, justice and freedom. We should never forget that role played by Ronnie and others in helping us move from a repressive regime to a society built on the values of human rights, dignity and democracy, Minister Dlodlo said.

The Minister shared a story about Mamoepa which happened a few years ago when he took ill and was in hospital for a number of weeks. When he came out, certain colleagues, who were happy to welcome him back, said: Ronnie welcome back, you gave us a fright there, we thought you were gone".

Mamoepa wittily responded, my boy, don't wish for that day because at my funeral you won't have access. It will be so big that the only way for you to gain entry will be if you are an ANC marshal or carrying a ANC youth league banner marching in front of the hearse".

Man of the people

Home Affairs Director -General (DG) Mkuseli Apleni remembered Mamoepa as a down to earth, man of the people, a true servant of the masses and a leader who had no title.

He was quite clear on the role of the media, understanding that media questions must be answered, with all honesty and integrity.

He had this ability to understand the product itself, whether a birth or an immigration issue. And he understood different segments of his audience, DG Apleni said.

He said Mamoepa understood the role of management in communicating administrative issues and he valued internal communication.

For him government was one seamless system of governance geared at the end of the day to take us towards the strategic objective of a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous African state, DG Apleni said.

Old school communication

Representative of Local Government Communicators, Selby Bokaba, said Mamoepa was not a gatekeeper but a facilitator.

Ronnie did not make the news, he delivered the news. Ronnie represented what I call the old school of communication. There was nothing superlative about him, he just stuck to the basics.

He comprehended the symbiotic relationship between the media and government. He understood that we needed the media in as much as the media needed us, Bokaba said.

Warm hearted, generous with his time

Speaking on behalf of Reuters, Ed Cropely, remembered Mamoepa as someone who was warm hearted, generous with his time and knowledge.

He was always happy to fill in the gaps for the bewildered outsider, in many cases supplementing his titbits advice and background with an offer of a quick chat with top officials including most recently the Deputy President.

During the dark days of xenophobic violence in 2008 as Home Affairs spokesman he would unfailingly take calls at any time of the day and night, on any day of the week, fielding questions politely, respectfully and as accurately as he could, Cropely said.

Media colleague Tshepo Ikaneng said Mamoepa was able to mend bridges and develop good working relationships.

Throughout his life he espoused high ethical conduct, Ikaneng said.

Memorial service, funeral service

Government Communicators and the media fraternity today joined the nation in mourning the passing of Mamoepa and sent their sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. He was a stalwart of the anti-apartheid struggle; a dedicated and humble civil servant and a loving husband and father. Mamoepa was a true and loyal and dependable friend to many.

The official memorial service will be held on Thursday at the Tshwane Events Centre, while the funeral service will be held on Saturday at the St Alban's Cathedral, also in Tshwane.

Source: South African Government News Agency