Education institute is renamed after MEC who ‘lived an ethos of service’

Late education MEC Mandla Makupula has been honoured by the Eastern Cape government, which has named the East London Education Leadership Institute after him.

Makupula died after a long battle with illness in October last year. The renaming of the institute in Stirling to the Mandla Makupula Leadership Institute was attended by provincial MECs, members of the clergy, traditional leaders, officials from the education sector and the Makupula family.

Former minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries Senzeni Zokwana delivered a memorial lecture on the life and times of Makupula on Thursday evening. Makupula was the longest serving education MEC after 1994.

Oscar Mabuyane, premier of the Eastern Cape unveiled a plaque in honour of Makupula. The institute is where the late MEC, who was affectionately known as Rima, faced tough questions during his tenure at the beginning of each year. It was here that he interacted with the media, who demanded to know how he planned to improve the province’s poor pass rate.

Mabuyane praised Makupula’s contribution to improving the education sector in the Eastern Cape. The province reached a 70% pass mark for the first time in the democratic dispensation after Makupula spearheaded a three-year turnaround plan. Results started to show the year that he died.

Comrades and friends it was under the leadership of comrade Rima that our province recorded marked improvements in our matric results, particularly during the fifth term of government.

But that was not an overnight success, it was a result of years of dedication and commitment by comrade Rima to fix the education system.

Rima consistently warned that the hype of our nation around matric pass rate was misplaced. He correctly proposed that we should instead focus our energies on strengthening the foundations for learning, said Mabuyane.

He said the government named the institute after him to preserve his memory and to provide a sense of history for future students, staff, and education stakeholders that there once lived a man who displayed an ethos of service and exemplary leadership that was above reproach.

The premier said he had no doubt in his mind that he [Makupula] would have liked the provincial education department to invest the bulk of its R36 billion in resourcing previously disadvantaged schools, particularly in rural areas.

He said inequities in the education sector were still highly prevalent in relation for instance to infrastructure, basic services and ICT.

Mabuyane said the 70, 65 percent achieved by the matric class of 2018 was now his provincial government’s baseline and promised to build on it, focusing on improving outcomes in the maths, science, technology and accounting subjects.

Comrade Rima was an epitome of leadership excellence. He led from the front in bad times and led from the back in good times. He took the hardest punches for the outcomes of matric results and the misplaced comparative analysis that were drawn between our province and other provinces.

He never asked for personal gratification even when education outcomes in our province started to show gradual improvements under his leadership, said Mabuyane.

Zokwana, who is the national chairperson of the South African Communist Party, described Makupula as an educationist to the end.

We have all been exposed somehow to his sharp mind and humble stature. We all have been his students at some point. He became one of the stalwarts of the struggle, he said.

Zokwana said Makupula joined the struggle during the toughest times in the history of the country when one’s activism could lead to their death.

He was known as The Principal in recognition of his love and passion for education and teaching. He was a unionist and organiser of workers. He taught mathematics and science after qualifying as a teacher, Zokwana said.

He said he hoped that the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union congress, which is sitting in Johannesburg this week, would be guided by some of his views and not be embroiled in factional battles.

Zokwana said the Communist Party was proud of Makupula because he never brought the party into disrepute.

He said Makupula would have bemoaned the fact that police had been rendered toothless and criminals were running amok. He said the disbandment of the elite police unit the directorate of special operations, also known as the Scorpions, was the beginning of the problem of corruption in the country.

He said this was demonstrated by what is being revealed at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture.

Today state parastatals are destroyed because of us as leaders. That is why the Zondo commission is causing some people to have sleepless nights. Eskom cannot supply the country with electricity, Prasa [Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa] has been milked, Telkom is cash-strapped, said Zokwana.

He said institutions were destroyed so that those who were corrupt had a blank cheque.

People are doing wrong things without any fear because they know that police have been rendered toothless. Dockets get lost before a case goes to court. This is designed to be this way because those with authority wanted to be safe from being arrested, he said.

Zokwana said in Makupula’s memory South Africans should unite against fighting corruption and criminality in the country.

Yamkela Makupula, the late MEC’s niece, said though her uncle was a busy man he also made time for his family.

He never missed spending time with his family especially during birthdays, Christmas and everything else. I remember one time when there was a Communist Party conference. He insisted that he would attend a family weeding in KwaZulu-Natal first before attending the party conference in Gauteng. That is the man that he was.

But he also loved the department of education. We used to laugh because when we asked each other in the morning what each of us had dreamt about the previous night, his response was always that he dreamt about education.

Source: Eastern Cape Department of Education