Public Service and Administration Minister Roy Padayachie and his peers did not use activism to get positions, President Jacob Zuma said on Wednesday.
“They never marketed themselves as possible members of the African National Congress national executive committee or as members of Cabinet,” he said at Padayachie’s funeral in Durban.
“They were happy to work in the background as long as work was done to advance the struggle for freedom and a better life for all.”
Padayachie died in a hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Friday during a working visit.
Delivering an eulogy at the funeral, Zuma said some people might not have been aware of Padayachie’s political career and contributions because he never saw the need to make them known. “He was satisfied with the fact that the freedom he sacrificed much for had been achieved.”
While Padayachie was studying towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Durban, he had worked closely with a small group of activists, including Pravin Gordhan, Yunus Mahomed, Yusuf Vawda and others.
“Armed with the Freedom Charter and also the Black Consciousness philosophy, they turned the Indian University at Salisbury Island, which later became the University of Durban-Westville, into a hive of political activity,” Zuma said.
“They were highly politically trained and organised, and could skilfully form structures that combined both overt civic campaigns and clandestine ANC activities.”
The group mobilised students, workers, and neighbouring communities in Phoenix, Chatsworth, Lamontville, Chesterville and others around several issues.
Padayachie’s activities attracted the security police, who hounded him, making a normal family life almost impossible.
He also completed a Masters Degree in Agricultural Economics at the University of London.
Zuma said it was during this time that he met “comrades” such as President Oliver Tambo, Yusuf Dadoo, Aziz Pahad, and others. “The stay in London deepened his political education and consciousness.”
From 2004 to 2009, he worked as deputy communications minister and then he took up the position of deputy minister of public service and administration from 2009 until 2010.
He was next appointed as minister for public service and administration, and still held the position when he died.
Zuma said Padayachie made a mark in each portfolio. “In the communications portfolio, he used the opportunity to bridge the digital divide. He was often seen in remote areas delivering computers to poor schools.”
Zuma described Padayachie as a man who loved his country and its people. “We will always remember this trait of humility and placing the needs of the country before one’s own.”
Padayachie is survived by his wife Sally and two daughters. — Sapa