Tribute to a peacemaker: Dr Meshack Radebe

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Meshack Radebe was dedicated and committed to peace, tolerance, and social cohesion. In the dark days of apartheid the community of Mpumalanga, to the west of Durban, South Africa, was caught in a wave of political violence between rival political factions instigated by the security forces of then then apartheid regime. The area experienced the highest levels of political violence at the time and became known as “Little Beirut”. At the time, when revenge killings were so prevalent it took brave and committed leadership to go against the passion and determination of foot-soldiers who were opposed to making peace with people who had killed their loved ones. Two of those leaders who stood up, risked death, and embraced peace, and led their followers to a peace agreement was the late Meshack Radebe from the African National Congress (ANC) and the late Sipho Mlaba from the Inkatha Freedom Party.

In recognition of their peace efforts, ACCORD, bestowed on them jointly its very first Africa Peace Award (APA) in 1993. The APA was awarded to them at a banquet dinner by former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo. Both Meshack and Sipho then worked with ACCORD to share their experience of peacemaking to communities and leaders of rival factions in Burundi and Ireland. Meshack and Sipho were awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal) for their peace efforts.

Meshack sadly passed away on 06 February 2021 after an illustrious career as a community and political activist and having held political office in the new South Africa. Dr Meshack Radebe, was the  former KwaZulu-Natal Member of the Executive Council (local Minister) for Social Development and Agriculture, and the former Deputy Speaker of the Provincial Legislature.

ACCORD extends its condolences to the Radebe family, the people of Mpumalanga Township and to his political organisation, the African National Congress.