1st June 2023
TRIBUTE TO MR TIEGO MOSENEKE BY NOMPENDULO MKHATSHWA ON BEHALF OF SASSFE, THE SOUTH AFRICA STUDENT SOLIDARITY FOUNDATION FOR EDUCATION | 31 MAY 2023 | SENATE ROOM, WITS UNIVERSITY
Good Evening to the Moseneke Family, the leadership of various institutions and organisations present here, comrades of SASSFE, all comrades, colleagues and friends that here this evening.
My name is Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, I am a Wits alumni, a former Wits student activist, former Wits SRC President, a trustee of SASSFE and a member of parliament currently serving as the chairperson of the portfolio committee on higher education, science and innovation.
I stand before you this evening on behalf of former wits student activists in particular SRC and BSS members who have organised themselves under the banner of SASSFE which is the South Africa Student Solidarity Foundation for Education.
SASSFE is a Fund started by a group of concerned former Wits student leaders, spanning from many generations.
When SASSFE started it was called SAFE, the South Africa Fund for Education we later had to change it to SASSFE because there was another organisation with that name.
The founding structure would include individuals such as Mr Tiego Moseneke, Moss Mashishi, Kenneth Creamer, Terry Tselane, Firoz Cachalia, linda Vilakazi, Archbishop Makhopa, Mamokhethi Phakeng, Grant Rex, Themba Maseko, Judge Goldstone to mention but a few.
Tiego and Kenneth made sure that all SRC Presidents or members that would follow were robbed into the work of SASSFE to the extent that some of us were made trustees and members of the management board. President Tebogo Thothela, Shafee Verachia, Shaeera Kalla, Fasiha Hassan, Mpendulo Mfeka, Mzwanele Ntshwanti all became close to the work of SASSFE.
I remember Tiego and Kenneth always making it a point to consult us on every small decision that SASSFE would make particularly towards the launch of SASSFE which took place whilst I was still President of the SRC. At this time Cde Tiego was the spokesperson of SASSFE, if I am not mistaken and these were some of the key issues he raised in the statement leading to the launch of SASSFE.
Cde Tiego wrote:
“The burden of ensuring that all poor but deserving students can have access to higher education cannot be borne by the poor students themselves and alone, but by society and in particular by those who have had the benefit of higher education. This must however be done voluntarily and independently and the funds must be well managed by trusted representatives of the alumni, in partnership with the universities. This is the moment for the rich few to eyeball the poor many. This is our nation building moment,”.
Cde Tiego further expressed that:
“The benefits to our society of actively doing what it takes to get the best tertiary education possible for as many of our people as possible outweighs moaning and pointing fingers by far”:
In this statement he clearly was imploring on us to work collectively in addressing matters that concerned us collectively. He was calling for unity in action.
And indeed Cde Tiego ensured he worked with all of us. Consulting us on what should be the focus of the work and objectives of SASSFE. A great focus area became to ensuring that students had support to successfully journey through their qualification. So addressing food security and the provision of study materials.
Literally, from one generation of SRC to another Tiego and Kenneth made sure SASSFE understood what the needs of that particular SRC were.
Mpendulo Shakes Mfeka SRC President 2021/22 writes: Even then, he supported me closely. Gave out his time to understand our headspace and share what he thinks would be options available to us. He stressed innovative ways of addressing the annual fees crisis. Most importantly, he jelled well across generations. I never felt less wise when conversing with him — yet every moment was an opportunity to learn from him.
Shafee Verachia, SRC President 2013/2014 writes: Tiego watched out for us during our resistance in 2016. When we were slandered, shunned and demonized as hooligans, Tiego reached out a protective brotherly arm, provided a listening ear and empathetic words of comfort. His immediate concern for our wellbeing was also indisputable. He reminded us to remain resolute to three commitments:
Our commitment to our people;
Our commitment to our nation; and
Our commitment to humanity in its entirety.
At a time when hope for a better future seems incongruent to the realities of our time, the responsibility to these three commitments are what we owe the future and also what we owe Tiego.
For as Leo Buscaglia says “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around”.
Perhaps Tiego saw further and noticed that this can change a nation around.
Even though Mzwanele Ntshwanti was not a President nor an SG nor in the Executive of the SRC, he really was our glue as the 2015/2016 SRC and so has he been an integral representation of our generation in the management committee of SASSFE. When I asked Mzwa for his input, he gave me some long clinical input about SASSFE and its objectives. I said Mzwa, your relationship was much more personal than the vision and mission of SASSFE. So, Mzwa attempted to allow himself to be a bit vulnerable and expressed:
That we must be grateful for our Cde Tiego took from his own to invest in the establishment of SASSFE. From borrowing us Sis Happy, to allowing us to use the Encha office space and investing resources for the functioning of SASSFE, including stipends etc.
In Mzwa and Tiego’s monthly catch ups they would speak about everything from SASSFE to the state of the South African economy and his assertions in how important it is for young people to lead.
Mzwa sends this with love from the UK.
There is a lot of work that we will have to continue to do comrades of SASSFE and all comrades in this room in uplifting the legacy of Cde Tiego to ensure that his efforts were not in vain.
When we formed SASSFE we wanted it to have impact across the country and have chapters in various institutions. As the chairperson of the PC on Higher Education, Science and Innovation I cannot reiterate the importance for alumni to invest in historically black institutions. Institutions that have made massive contributions to the development of the black community. Your Fort Hare’s, UniZulu, UniVen and many others must be protected by those who once walked their corridors.
Cde Kenneth has asked that I also share with comrades that SASSFE will be hosting an annual lecture in honour of Cde Tiego Moseneke to ensure that his ideas for how we can build this beautiful country of ours, do not perish.
From Mzwa’s clinical input, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done by SASSFE and in honour of Cde Tiego we must charge on in attempting to meet those plans.
To the family of Cde Tiego thank you so much for sharing him with us. The way he so equally treated us, we can’t even say he had many children across the country but rather he had many little brothers and sisters; and we remain so honoured to have shared the moments we did with him and learnt the lessons we learnt from him.
For those of us who believe in ancestors, we believe that he has convened a meeting of progressives to intervene on some of the challenges we are faced with.
Sithi uTiego akalalanga kodwa apho akhoyo uguqe ngamadolo!
Long live the undying spirit of Tiego Moseneke, Long live!