Deputy President Paul Mashatile has described the late Ronald “Ronnie” Mamoepa as a dear friend, comrade and struggle hero.
Mashatile, who spoke on Wednesday at the official launch of the Ronnie Mamoepa Foundation, told delegates at the event that he shared fond memories with his late friend.
“When it was not fashionable, Ronnie, from the dusty streets of Pheli [Atteridgeville], joined the movement to fight for freedom. We are indeed today almost 30 years into freedom and democracy, and this is because of the sacrifices and contributions of Ronnie and his generation.
“The youth at the time never stood on the side. They, like Ronnie, opposed the apartheid tyranny. He understood that his future and that of his offspring and generations depended on him.”
According to the country’s second-in-command, Mamoepa was part of a group that helped build the ANC in Gauteng.
Because of his skills and capacity to communicate effectively, Mamoepa transcended into government to become one of the best communicators.
Mamoepa’s last job at the time of his passing in 2017 was then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson.
“It is because of people like Ronnie and Thabo Masebe that today we have the best communication machinery for government through the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).”
He believes that for them to be honoured, the GCIS, the National School of Government and institutions of learning should incorporate talks about political communication and research to learn about their legacy.
The Deputy President thanked the Freedom Park senior management for hosting the commemoration through the establishment of the foundation.
The guests also observed the wreath-laying at the Wall of Names at Freedom Park, immortalising the name and legacy of Mamoepa amongst the esteemed heroes and heroines who contributed to the liberation struggle.
These include Chris Hani, Ruth First, Zachariah Keodirelang “ZK” Matthews, Govan Mbeki, Lilian Ngoyi, Charlotte Maxeke and many more.
Held under the ‘Recommitting the legacy of Ronnie Mamoepa through social activism’ theme, the Deputy President said the event was a clarion call for all citizens to emulate the undying spirit of selflessness, dedication and humanity that the late spokesperson championed.
“Ronnie, the griot, was one of the most esteemed struggle heroes, a defender of freedom and democracy, a seasoned government communicator, and a dedicated public servant.”
He said the foundation was based on the principles that the late comrade upheld.
“Ronnie was a man of exceptional courage, unwavering determination, and deep compassion. He was a relentless advocate for the rights of the marginalised and oppressed.”
The Deputy President recalled how he boldly spoke out against injustice, stood up against discrimination, and fought for a better, more inclusive society.
“His legacy serves as a beacon of hope for those who continue to carry on his work. It reminds us that even in the face of adversity, we must never lose sight of our shared responsibility to create more equitable and just communities.
“On this important occasion, we should perhaps ask ourselves this question: How would Ronnie have responded to the current social-political challenges facing our country and would he be pleased with the current political paradigm?”
He is of the view that the man he knew would be concerned about the plight of the people.
“He would be advocating for unity and accountability. He would be asking questions about how far we are in dealing with the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment, and inequalities.”
He also commended the GCIS for honouring the fallen hero by renaming their Press Room the Ronnie Mamoepa Media Centre.
The Deputy President also shared words of comfort to Mamoepa’s widow and children.
“We will also ensure that the legacy of our brother, friend and comrade, Ronnie lives on. Ronnie is a hero of our struggle. He is worthy of being commemorated forever.” –