Back to top

Eulogy by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the funeral of the former Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Mr Mpho Moerane

Printer-friendly version
Programme Director,
Members of the Moerane and Nkosi family,
Ministers, Deputy Ministers, MECs, Mayors and Councilors,
Leadership of the African National Congress and the Alliance,
People of Alexandra,
Fellow Mourners,
Comrades and friends,
 
Today is sad day. But it is also a day of celebration and a day of expression of love.
 
We had all held out hope that our dear comrade and colleague would recover from his injuries.
 
Just a few days ago I was told that he was making progress and responding well to treatment.
 
But what we on earth hope and wish for, we do not always receive.
 
Isiah 55 verse 8 says:
 
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”
 
On behalf of the government and people of South Africa, I offer my condolences to the Moerane family, who have lost a husband, father and brother.
 
Our condolences also go to the ANC in Gauteng for having lost a dedicated leader.
 
Our thoughts are with his many comrades, colleagues and friends who are mourning him.
 
We have seen all the heartfelt tributes from not just his colleagues in the City of Johannesburg but from those who interacted with him over the years.
 
We have heard from members of the media who described him as being affable and always available to answer their questions and grant interviews.
 
As I listened to all the tributes to Comrade Mpho, the one attribute that stood out was his approach to work - to volunteerism to selflessness. As I reflected on this attribute,  another verse from Isiah came to mind.
 
Isiah 6, verse 8 says:
 
“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
And I said, here I am, send me.”
 
Comrades, colleagues,
 
We always speak highly of servant leadership.
 
We extoll its virtues on public platforms.
 
We put the words ‘Thuma Mina, Send Me’ in our policy documents and on our official banners, and use them to round off our speeches to the people.
 
And yet, there is sometimes a gap between what we profess and what we do.
 
Comrade Mpho Moerane was the model of a servant leader.
 
He was the Mayor of the City of Johannesburg for only a brief moment having stepped into the breach following the untimely passing of his predecessor, Mayor Jolidee Matongo.
 
After the 2021 local elections, he had to move to another role.
 
He didn’t lay traps for his successor or foment sabotage.
 
He didn’t cling to the mayoral chain and cause chaos in the chamber.
 
He deferred to the will of the electorate, to the instructions of the leadership of the province, presiding over a smooth handover and transition, and returned to work as leader of the ANC caucus.
 
In that role, he did all he could to ensure the council was run in a spirit of cooperation and that all views would be respected.
 
He believed in taking responsibility and in accountability, including for decisions that were made by his predecessors.
 
Where his movement deployed him, he went.
 
He was loyal to the ANC and served it without expectation of personal reward.
 
He respected and safeguarded the resources meant for the people.
 
He believed in the renewal of the ANC and worked for the restoration of its founding values, for which our forebears laid down their lives.
 
No task or job was beneath him, or unbefitting of his stature as a senior leader.
 
He sat with learners to resolve their challenges with sanitation at school, and put on overalls and gloves to pick up waste on the streets of Alexandra.
 
I will never forget seeing the story late last year of Comrade Mpho, his loving wife Fikile and children arriving at Alexandra Community Healthcare Centre to get vaccinated.
 
At the time, vaccination rates were declining in the province, especially among young people.
 
There he was, getting himself and his family vaccinated, publicly in a community clinic in the township he was born.
 
In doing so he was demonstrating confidence, not just in the vaccine and the rollout programme, but in our government facilities.
 
He was telling the people of South Africa that he was from them, with them and amongst them, as all leaders should be.
 
In according him this type of funeral, a civic funeral, we are honoring his contribution to the City of Johannesburg and its people.
 
His funeral is here in Alexandra amongst his people, in the place he grew up and where everyone knew him and loved him.
 
The cruel hand of fate deprived him of many more years with his family and friends.
 
It has deprived his country of many more years of service, but even in the short time he served, he left his mark.
 
As a country we are fighting many fires.
 
It is not an easy time to lead. And yet lead we must.
 
This is a year of conferences in the congress movement, and there will be contestation, as there are in a healthy democracy.
 
Let it be that standing for election is because we have something to offer, because we want to take forward the programme of a better life for all, and because we want to change South Africa for the better.
words.
 
As our democracy has matured, so too has the insight of our people in terms of the type of what types of leaders they want and deserve.
 
Last year’s local government elections were a wake-up call and we must take heed.
 
The people of South Africa want leaders who put their interests first.
 
We are burying a leader of great integrity today.

Fellow Mourners,

Death stalks us all.

None of us knows when our time on this earth will end. What is important is that we use this life to sow good works that outlive us.

Our departed colleague has left behind many good works.

But what he has also left behind is a reminder that the values we live by define us more than what we wear, the languages we speak, where we live,  and what we have or do not have.

He loved this city and its people. I got to see, feel and touch the passion he had for this city as I worked with him for a few day last year, when I joined him in the campaign for the local government  elections.

He exuded total passion and commitment to addressing the needs of the people of Johannesburg.

He was a compassionate and informed leader. I was impressed with the way he knew his city. 

Where our people were angry because of service delivery challenges such as electricity,  he was a peace-maker and a bridge-builder.

I got to see what an influential leader he was as he interacted with our people in our many townships in Johannesburg, but in all his dealings with our people, he was humble.

He was respectful of our people, and in turn earned their respect. He was an honest leader.

The words of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi inspire us all at this time when we are called upon to be servant leaders, and where each citizen is called upon to live by the values he espoused and also as set out in our noble Constitution.

“Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
Where there is sadness, joy.
For it is in giving that we receive.”

May we live by these words.

When we depart from this life, may it be said of each of us that we were of good character and of good reputation.

To my sister Fikile and your wonderful children and the entire family, we share your sorrow. 

May you be comforted by all the words of honour that have been ascribed to your husband, your father and your brother.
 
We take inspiration from his life as we redouble our efforts to build a humane, egalitarian and caring society.
 
Comrade Mpho put up his hand and said, “Here I am, send me”.
 
It was not a slogan to him; it was how he lived. 

Even as we celebrate his life today we still feel that we were robbed of the best that Mpho was bound to offer this country as a leader, a servant of our people 
 
In his memory let us bring the culture of servant leadership back into our politics, back into our government and back into our society. We need it now more than ever.
 
We should not be a people who only roll out the red carpet and only drape the national flag over the caskets of the heavyweights and luminaries of the anti-apartheid struggle.
 
The legacies of men and women like Mpho Moerane, who served quietly, diligently and with integrity will never be diminished, nor will their light burn out.
 
May his light, and the lights of the many others who came before, illuminate our path in the difficult days that lie ahead.
 
We thank him for his outstanding service to the people of this Metro.

May he rest in peace.
 
I thank you.