IN QUOTES | Cyril Ramaphosa remembers anti-apartheid activist Raymond Mhlaba in memorial lecture

24 February 2020 - 06:55 By Cebelihle Bhengu
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the Raymond Mhlaba memorial lecture on Sunday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the Raymond Mhlaba memorial lecture on Sunday.
Image: SIMPHIWE NKWALI/ Sunday Times

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday remembered anti-apartheid activist Raymond Mhlaba as he addressed his memorial lecture in Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal.

Mhlaba was a political prisoner on Robben Island, where he served alongside former president Nelson Mandela, and was the first premier of the Eastern Cape, according to SABC

He died in 2005 at the age of 85. He would have turned 100 on Sunday.

Ramaphosa used the lecture to celebrate the struggle icon's contribution to the liberation of black South Africans and to address pressing issues in SA and the ruling party.

Here's his address in seven quotes:

People came first 

“Oom Ray stood for an abiding commitment to serve the people of SA without expecting anything in return. He fought so we could all be free and we ought to ask ourselves if we are advancing the values that he stood for.”

His values are being undermined

“Despite the progress we have made towards the attainment of Oom Ray's vision, we must admit that the values he stood for are under attack  from some members of our society. The unity of the people of SA, black and white, is being undermined by those who perpetuate the false and backward notion of white supremacy, which manifests itself in sporadic rants of bigotry.”

Apartheid was a crime 

“There are those who seek to conceal that apartheid was a crime against humanity. We must state that if there are still those who share that belief, they must wake up and know that apartheid was a huge crime against the people of this country.”

Gender-based violence 

“The abuse, rape and murder of women and children calls for men to change their attitude and see women as equal human beings. They must not be treated less than. They must be treated with the respect they deserve because they are our mothers. Women are not second-class citizens of SA.”


“Another vision of Oom Ray and his comrades is the issue of corruption by those who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor. The unbridled contestation within our ranks for public resources and the graft that has become commonplace at our public institutions must present a great threat to the advancement of our revolution.”

He was well respected 

“Oom Ray's unifying personality earned him the respect of his peers and had Madiba make these remarks about him: 'He spent a lot of time urging prisoners to forget their differences and unite so that conditions for prisoners could improve.' He had the great ability to ensure the cohesion of the forces in the revolution by being unfactional.”

Unite the ANC 

“Some among us have factions and we say in the ANC, our task is to build unity and get rid of all the factions. There must not be those who associate themselves only with certain individuals. We must all be of the ANC and not belong to anybody. We must unite so that the conditions of our people can improve.”