Johannesburg – Mourners from across the country on Saturday bade farewell to former Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka, who passed away two weeks ago.
Shiceka was laid to rest at West Park cemetery in a ceremony conducted by the South African National Defence Force following a decision by President Jacob Zuma to grant him an official funeral.
Family and friends gathered in numbers at the Standard Bank Arena in Johannesburg to pay their last respects to the man whom many knew as “Mr SS”.
It was an emotional moment for one of Shiceka’s daughters, Bonolo, who wiped away tears as she read a goodbye letter to her father, whom she described as “outspoken and frank”.
“I will miss his smile, his random jokes… Rather than dwelling on his death, we should celebrate my dad’s life the way he lived it and the impact he had made,” said Bonolo.
In his tribute on behalf of government, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi remembered Shiceka as a minister who had championed what became the municipal turnaround strategy.
“He led the process, directly involved and even proud to refer to himself as ‘choir conductor’. As government, we lower the country’s flags, fully observing that Mr Shiceka departed at the time when not only his family and the people still expected more from him but particularly, he would have liked to live to see further transformation of both local government and traditional affairs matters,” said Baloyi.
He said Shiceka would be remembered for his views on doing things differently to address serious challenges faced by the country’s municipalities.
“He did not believe in watching things happen but he derived pleasure in getting things [done] by him or through direct command …”
Basic Education Minister and ANC Women’s League President Angie Motshekga described him as a revolutionary who fought hard for freedom.
“He was always working amongst people but also leading from the front. Some of those who had the privilege of working closely with him … knew exactly how hard [he] worked,” Motshegka said.
Shiceka had the determination to achieve in everything he set his mind on and expected no rewards in the end, she added.
Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said Shiceka’s contribution to the Gauteng provincial government would forever be valued. He was one of the leaders who drove the province’s governance system from its infancy in 1994 to what it was today.
“He made sure roads were tarred, there were street lights and there was refuse removal,” said Mokonyane.
Shiceka served as Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs from mid-2009 before he was put on sick leave early in 2011.
Prior to his appointment as Cooperative Governance Minister, Shiceka was Minister of Provincial and Local Government.
He cut his political teeth when he became a member of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) in the 1980s. He went on to serve as branch chairman in Soweto.
He served on various structures for numerous political parties, including the Azanian Student Organisation (1987), the Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers Union in 1989, the Johannesburg inner-city branch of the South African Communist Party (1991), and as provincial secretary of Cosatu in 1992.
Shiceka became a member of the ANC’s Gauteng provincial executive council in 1996, and served as MEC for Development Planning and Local Government in the Gauteng legislature from 1994 to 1999.
He became a member of the ANC NEC in 2007, serving on a number of sub-committees.
He is credited with conceptualising the establishment of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). – BuaNews