History will judge you

2016-06-22 06:00

IN political cycles, there is a saying which goes: “In politics there are no permanent friends, and there are no permanent enemies either.”

I was moved by the recent news of the cabinet reshuffle, following the resignation of Premier Senzo Mchunu. I was more hurt by the removal of MEC Vusumuzi Cyril Xaba from the portfolio of agriculture.

Of all the MEC’s who took over in this department since the late Shombela (Dumisani Makhaye), Xaba was the best-performing of them all, with flying colours.

At some point in history, the Department of Agriculture was regarded as a dump site for failing and obsolete MPs. When Xaba was brought in he completely changed that horrible image.

It should be noted that when Xaba took over the department was in shambles, with perennial records of financial mismanagement. He worked his heart out, cleaning up the mess left by a clueless politician called Meshack Radebe, who was managing the department as though it was his family spaza shop.

Nonkosi (Xaba clan name) managed to bring back financial stability, among other things - putting in strong monitoring tools in the supply chain management unit which was like a jumping castle for school children. Had the agriculture department been a private company under Radebe, it certainly would have become insolvent, liquidated, with employees retrenched. Xaba’s turn-around strategy brought about financial firmness in the department. It is not surprising that even the provincial Treasury sings high praises of Xaba for his remarkable ability to handle the department’s finances so perfectly.

While he was still trying to find his feet in the department, the country got plunged into the worst drought in decades, more especially KZN. A strategist with socialist insights and an economic development scholar of highest notch, Xaba developed profound strategies to help our poor communities combat the plight.

It is worth noting that most, if not all, farmers affected by the drought received compensation. He ensured that livestock feed is distributed to all municipalities in KZN.

Xaba went head-on with Mr Senekal, a controversial white farmer from Jozini, who has been for years, hogging water supplies to communities and farmers living nearby Jozini Dam.

Xaba developed guts and skills that his predecessors had run short of, by challenging Senekal through legal processes. Mr Senekal was thought to be untouchable. That case is in court as we speak.

Xaba had just introduced the unemployed agricultural graduates programme portal, whereby graduates would be placed in a skills development database where each graduate would be absorbed into the department’s structure, according to their field of competency and specialty, following the normal government recruitment procedures. Without a doubt, this was a good step in the right direction in curbing the scourge of unemployment in the agricultural sector.

He worked well to uproot the myth about agriculture being a sector for old, exhausted rural citizens and school drop-outs. His efforts to dismiss this notion were beginning to work out. Xaba had a sound vision of transforming the sector into a sought-after profession.

He has engaged numerous times with youth forums and skills development professional bodies to attract youth in townships and urban settlements to consider agriculture a course of choice.

Xaba had harmonious relationship with employees and organised labour alike, not once had he had unions resorting to labour action against his management style. He is a true negotiator and honest community leader since his youth days in Skomplaz, Clermont township.

His wisdom in social cohesion and community development is unmatched.

Xaba is an academic of note and naturally intellectual. His down-to-earth altruistic approach has earned him apt respect from all the races and political organisations, including the opposition.

He would not gloat and get carried away by just honourary qualifications as some politicians do. He works hard for the accolades he earns. He is above party politic lines and is United Nations material.

Farmers across KZN are proud to have had an MEC of Xaba’s calibre and highly appreciative of him. He was a man more of a tool box than of a basket full of empty promises.

That’s why when the news of his recall broke out, none of the employees in Cedara celebrated his departure, as they did to one former MEC. He has been a humbled special advisor to all the premiers from 2004. That alone proves the level of his brilliance. The Provincial Growth and Development Strategy (PGDS), our economic development manual designed for creating a prosperous province for future generations, was Xaba’s brainchild. Today, KZN is being hailed by all the provinces for this magnificent economic break-through strategy.

Wherever the waves of political seas takes him to or wherever the ANC redeploys him, he is undoubtedly being followed by a fresh aroma, as a man of integrity who worked with immense efforts to uplift the lives of the disadvantaged population and the poorest of the poor. Xaba is a great political leader and an astute organisational administrator - a man who sought no flashy attention nor spotlight of the cameras.

We adore you and salute you MEC Xaba. History will judge you with absolute greatness.

ss mbatha uMgungundlovu

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