Obituary: The untimely death of an ANC ‘visionary’

2012-05-05 16:59

Roy Padayachie, the minister of public service and administration who died in Ethiopia on Friday, will be remembered as one of the most effective ministers in President Jacob Zuma’s administration.

Padayachie died while he was on a work trip to Addis Ababa where he was attending a meeting of the African Union’s Peer Review Mechanism, Zuma’s office said. He reportedly collapsed and died after experiencing back pain.

The 62-year-old former anti-apartheid activist joined the ANC in 1972, having served in the leadership of the Natal ­Indian Congress.

He continued working for the party’s underground structures even when he was employed as a full-time chemist after his graduation from the University of Durban-Westville in the 1970s.

His profile on the government’s website shows that he also represented the party in KwaZulu-Natal during the Codesa transitional talks that eventually led to the birth of democracy in 1994, and that he previously served as a provincial United Democratic Front leader.

He started serving in government under former president Thabo Mbeki in 2004, when he was appointed deputy minister of communications. He served in that position until 2009 when president at the time Kgalema Motlanthe appointed him as deputy public service and administration minister.

The telecommunications sector eagerly welcomed Padayachie’s promotion as communications minister following Zuma’s reshuffle in 2010, with many hoping that he would finally bring about the policy certainty that had eluded the portfolio under his predecessors.

They feted him as the kind of leader who would take the department beyond its narrow focus on telecommunications and widen its scope to encompass the broader information technology sector.

But his stint there lasted just more than a year before Zuma moved him to his last position.

It is not surprising that his party has described him thus: “He was without a doubt one of the most ­talented, experienced and visionary government leaders, with ­unmatched ability to fit in what­ever portfolio he was deployed to.”

The opposition Democratic ­Alliance echoed the same sentiment when it described him as a “hard-working” member of Cabinet who was “responsive” and committed to service delivery.

He was born Radhakrishna Lutchmana Padayachie in Durban on May 1 1950. He is survived by his wife, Sally Mudly-Padayachie, and two adult daughters, Vindea Naidoo and Trevana Moodley.

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