Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to attend Exhumation and Repatriation Ceremony in Zambia, 18 – 20 February 2010.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane will lead the South African delegation to the Exhumation Ceremony in respect of the late African National Congress’ (ANC) Head of International Affairs, Johnstone “Johnny” Mfanafuthi Makhathini who passed away on 3 December 1988 while exiled in Zambia. The ceremony follows the state visit by President Jacob G. Zuma to Zambia during which he, accompanied by that country’s President Rupiah Banda, visited Mr Makhathini’s grave and laid wreaths on it. The remains will be exhumed and reburied in Pietermaritzburg on 27 February 2010.

Mr Makhathini was born in Durban on 8 February 1932. He was a gifted, bright and talented debater with an aptitude for languages.  He attended school at Adams College where he trained as a teacher and taught at Mzinyathi in the Inanda area.

The late Makhathini became politically active when Bantu Education was imposed in African schools and subsequently resigned from the teaching profession rather than continue to serve under the Bantu Education system and pursued part time studies at the University of Natal.

Owing to the brutal suppression of political activity, arrest of political activists by the Apartheid regime, in 1962, Johnny was among the first group of volunteers from Natal to be sent out of the country for military training in the then Tanganyika where they met Nelson Mandela.

Mr Makhathini had sterling qualities which led to his appointment as Head of the ANC mission to the United Nations in 1977, and subsequently in 1983, as Head of the ANC’s Department of International Affairs.

On the occasion of the Official Opening of the OR Tambo Building on 11 December 2009, that houses the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, President Jacob Zuma mentioned several possible struggle heroes after which the building could have been named and said: “The other could have been Johnny Makhathini, many people will know him - Johnny Mfanafuthi Makhathini who made such an enormous contribution. At times he was referred to as the person who almost, single-handed, isolated South Africa [from the rest of the world through his anti-apartheid campaign that included cultural and sporting boycott against the country]. He never slept. He changed tickets at airports and really worked hard. We could have been tempted to name it after him”.

South Africa and Zambia have a long history of solid relations which dates back to the days of the struggle against apartheid when southern African liberation movements such as the ANC, ZANU/ZAPU from Zimbabwe and SWAPO from Mozambique sought refuge in Zambia. The support that the Government and the people of Zambia rendered to the ANC contributed immensely to the birth of a democratic South Africa for which Johnny Makhathini sacrificed his entire life.

Bilateral relations

Longstanding Zambian support of the liberation struggle in South Africa has led to the establishment of a deep mutual bond between the people of Zambia and South Africa. Formal diplomatic relations were first established in May 1992 at the level of "Representative Offices" and were upgraded to full diplomatic status on 10 May 1994. Current bilateral relations were further strengthened when President Zuma, at the invitation of H.E. Rupiah Banda, led a delegation from both government and South African businesses on a state visit to Zambia from 7 to 9 December 2009.

During the visit President Zuma laid wreaths at the freedom statue and at the graves of the late Messrs. Duma Nokwe and Johnny Makhathini in remembrance of freedom fighters who died during the liberation struggle.  He also delivered a key note address at the Oliver Tambo Memorial Lecture organised by the University of Zambia (UNZA) at Mulungushi International Conference centre.  UNZA School of Law conferred upon President Zuma an honorary Doctorate of Law for his tireless efforts in fighting inhuman injustices.

During the state visit President Jacob Zuma was conferred the order of the Eagle of Zambia for his outstanding contribution to the liberation struggle of South Africa by President Banda.

President Zuma, as an ANC leader also participated in the February 2009 N’cwala Ceremony hosted by President Banda and Ngoni Chief in the Eastern Province, where cultural links between the Ngoni and Nguni peoples of the sub-region were consolidated.

South Africa considers Zambia’s strategic location in the region as a vehicle to advance regional integration and development and NEPAD programmes.  Furthermore, cross-border national parks and other cross-border projects can benefit Zambia and the region, especially in areas such as food security and hydro-electric power generation.

For more information contact the Chief Director for Public Diplomacy, Mr. Saul Kgomotso Molobi on 082 940 1647.

Department of International Relations and Cooperation 
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road

17 February 2010


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