Speech at the former Minister Sicelo Shiceka's funeral

As the Government of the Republic of South Africa, we lower our the country’s flag as we lay to rest one of those pioneer leaders of a democratic South African Government, Cde Sicelo Shiceka, former MEC for Gauteng Department of Local Government, former Minister of Provincial and Local Government-turned Cooperative Governance and Traditional Leaders.

We do so with full acknowledgement that when he was still full of life and in these trenches, he gave his all to the call of duty, selfless and generous.

We do so with doubtless realisation that his footprints are visibly engraved in the history of governance in the Gauteng Province, as he is one among those who led the development of policies that defined what Local Government had to adopt as a take-off speed in the dawn of Democracy, a sustainable foundation on which we continue to build even today.

As Government, we lower the country’s flag fully observing that Mr Shiceka departs at a time where not only his family and the people still expected more from him, but clearly that he would have liked to leave to see the further transformation of both Local Government and Traditional Affairs matters.

He championed the Local Government turn-around strategy, a bold step only the brave could take,
a journey to a brighter destination, yet routed through rugged terrains, rocky inclines and sometimes slippery descends with coordination difficulties, a journey derived from deep-seated political will to do things differently, with a view to strengthen confidence between the people and the Government through effective, efficient, responsive and developmental Local Government structures.

He led the establishment of the Department of Traditional affairs, and continued to manage programmes started before, of course with a challenging responsibility of steering the ship over somehow unstable waters in the transformation of Traditional and indigenous affairs.

If his soul is to rest in peace, those of us who remain behind will have to embrace the programmes he lived to see to the end in deed not compromised, as his was not a mere job-for-job-sake issue, but a deep commitment to see things happen.

He did not believe in watching things happen, but he derived pleasure in getting things done by him or through his direct command.
He used to tell us that he was not a passenger in the history-making vehicle, but a history maker himself, irrespective of what it would take.

He was decisive, perhaps in his unique way.

The people of Moutse, Matatiele, Ba Ga-Mothibi and others saw the history-maker in action, and we remain called upon to pronounce ourselves on the stances he took in some of those issues.

We will remember him in action.

He was a people’s person and on our behalf he sometimes had to walk among sharp thorns and face serious challenges.

As we say farewell to Mr Shiceka, we know that he was a Member of Parliament, and that as such he would always strive to ensure that Parliamentarians assist in strengthening a bond between the people and programmes of the State, through effective feedback mechanisms, sharing information and thus empowering the people, initiating development projects, mobilising stakeholders and ensure effective oversight.

As we lower the country’s flag and lay Mr Shiceka to rest, we are sure that we are not burying an angel but a human being like all other leaders, fallible in life and capable of making mistakes like we all do, and we want to make a call that people should not take to extreme corners, sing “holier than thou” and make judgement calls: “Shiceka this, Shiceka that”.

As Government, we are convinced that Mr Shiceka fought many successful fights, ran and completed many races and he leaves scores of legacies.

On this occasion and point, allow me to borrow from the words of the poet Charlotte Bronte in her poem: “The Parting”.  

In it she tells us that:

“THERE'S no use in weeping,
Though we are condemned to part:
There's such a thing as keeping
A remembrance in one's heart:

When we've left each friend and brother,
When we're parted wide and far,
We will think of one another,
As even better than we are.

So there's no use in weeping,
Bear a cheerful spirit still;
Never doubt that Fate is keeping
Future good for present ill.

As Government, we invite the Family of Shiceka to join us in celebrating the life of Sicelo Shiceka, in the know and in pride that the legacy he leaves behind is the contribution the family made to the people of South Africa.

We hope that the country recognises that.

We run out of words to express ourselves on how thankful we are for your contribution in releasing Cde Shiceka to work with us for the people of South Africa.

Yes, if Cde Shiceka is to rest in peace, there should be no disconnect between the people of South Africa and the Government.

To our fallen former colleague, Cde Shiceka, may your soul rest in peace.