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African National Congress




ANC statement on the death of Steve Tshwete

27 April 2002

The African National Congress salutes ANC National Executive Committee member Steve Vukile Tshwete, who passed away on Friday night (26 April 2002).

Steve Tshwete was a South African who demonstrated throughout his life a profound commitment to the liberation of the people of this country and the African continent.

An able and experienced organiser, soldier and political leader, Tshwete was highly regarded within the democratic movement and more broadly. He will be particularly remembered for his central role in re-building the ANC as a mass-based organisation following its unbanning in 1990, which was critical to the success of the ANC in the 1994 elections, and for his contribution to the development of non-racial sport in South Africa.

Born in 1938, Tshwete`s parents were workers who set great store by education. The growth of his political awareness coincided with the 1950s Treason Trial, and he immersed himself in ANC work after leaving school. Arrested in 1963, he spent 15 years on Robben Island. He returned to political organising in the Eastern Cape following his release in 1978, becoming president of the Border region of the United Democratic Front in 1983.

Harassed by the security police and declared persona non grata in South Africa, Tshwete continued his work across the borders, first in Lesotho and then in Zambia. During this time he served in a number of ANC committees and was appointed Army Commissar of Umkhonto we Sizwe.

Returning to the country in 1990, Tshwete was tasked with the work of the National Organiser, responsible for rebuilding the structures of the organisation. He headed the ANC`s Sports Desk and later became Minister of Sport and recreation. He was pivotal in the transformation of South African sport. Tshwete was appointed Minister of Safety and Security in 1999, dedicating himself to tackle crime and lawlessness and build safer communities for our people.

As South Africans join together to work for a better country, we should seek to emulate the values of service, discipline and commitment which Steve Tshwete embodied throughout his life.