• Mrs Filtane, the Filtane children, grandchildren, family members and friends
• UDM Deputy President, Mr Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, MP
• National, Provincial and Regional leaders of the UDM
• UDM Public representatives
• Superintendent Reverend NM Vanqa
• Ordinary members of the UDM
• People of Thanga Village and the larger area of Mnquma

1. The shock – Mncedisi Filtane is no more

I spoke to Mr Filtane on Friday, 20 November, when he was about to be admitted to hospital due to low oxygen levels. I told him to go rest and get well, and that we would see each other soon.

When I chatted with Mrs Filtane, one of the things I said was to take away Mr Filtane’s phone and tablet, because he had to rest.

The next thing I heard was that he demanded his tablet on Saturday. That was him, he was clearly suffering the symptoms of information withdrawal.

When I got that early morning call on the Sunday from his son Mphathisi his simple words were: “uTuta uhamibile”, it was a massive blow.

These past few months have been, without a doubt, some of the saddest in the United Democratic Movement’s (UDM) history as we lost so many of our senior leaders. May all their souls rest in peace.

2. Message to the Filtane Family

To Mrs Filtane, the children, grandchildren, siblings and all other family, I want to express the condolences of the entire UDM national leadership and in the name of the party.

Zizi will be missed on so many levels, not only in our political activities at the UDM, but also our personal lives.

The time now is to mourn. But I want to console you and say that this will pass in time.

Mrs Filtane, you are already part of the UDM family, so please continue with your dedication to the party, but, only once you feel strong enough.

3. Remembering the man

When UDM Deputy President Nqabayomzi Kwankwa so eloquently spoke at Mr Filtane’s memorial service on Thursday, he said that we should do what is right and remember the life of this man and honour his memory.

So, I set myself the task to remember the Mncedisi Filtane I knew.

I came across a quote from the late Dr Maya Angelou that sounded like something he could have said:

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

I just want to add a few of his other missions in life, his devotion, discipline, and compassionate service to the people, especially the poor and vulnerable. He was result oriented and he resented failing people.

Zizi had a warm personality and a quick, and clever sense of humour.

Two other things I also recall was Mr Filtane’s love of words, expression and oration… and of course rugby.

In 1976 when I played Number 14 for the Orientals Rugby Club and we played against his Wallabies team. I once raced for the try line with the late father of the Springbok Ndugane Twins, giving chase. I still have a vivid memory of the Wallabies fans madly screaming: “Bamba eloJoni”. Mr Filtane and his close friend Mr Calaza were shouting the same thing from behind the poles.

We had also met each other from time-to-time during my time as the then head of the Transkei government on issues of business and sport. I remember that he used to live in Norwood, a grand suburb of Mthatha, and now, it sadly is a shadow of its former self with more potholes than roads.

4. Mncedisi Filtane and politics

When Mr Filtane started to explore politics, he bought into the simple truth of the UDM’s main goal, which is to better the lives of all South Africans.

Our mission statement aligned with his personal values and I want to share it with you in his memory:

“We will unite South Africans from all communities in a new political home, built on the foundation of the principles and ideals of our National Constitution.

To this end we will address poverty and imbalances in our society, inspired by our unifying love of our Country and its people.

We will set free the creative power inherent in our diversity and will co-operate with all stakeholders to ensure a quality life and individual freedom for every citizen, based on good governance and civil order, towards being a Winning Nation.”

These were goals he was willing to fight for and for which he worked himself to a standstill.

Good governance and civil order were matters of great concern for Mr Filtane. Looking after public resources and ensuring that they are used for the social and economic upliftment of our people was paramount in his mind.

When he and I would discuss the issues of the day and the state of the nation, he would ask: “General, when will the looting stop?”. He was genuinely worried about the futures of the people of this province in particular.

We would recall the Transkei days and activism when we were still young men.

When 1994 came, and in the years thereafter, the people of this province placed their trust in leaders who masqueraded as the saviours of the oppressed. Little did we know how misplaced that trust would be. Simply put, the comrades have betrayed the Struggle.

The revelations at the Zondo and other commissions, prove our suspicions, that the ruling elite was plundering state coffers to line their own pockets and that of the ruling party itself. Taking resources away from the people they claimed to champion.

The UDM is proud that our years’ long agitation and pressure around the issues of promoting the ethics of good governance are starting to yield results. At least Mr Filtane witnessed the first vestiges of political will, to have these criminals arrested.

I make this undertaking in Mr Filtane’s memory… that whilst the UDM is still around, we will fight anarchy and corruption, tooth, and nail.

In line with Mr Filtane’s passion to better the life of our rural citizens, the UDM will continue the cause of having the collapsed Matanzima-era infrastructure in this area repaired, upgraded and integrated into the larger infrastructure scheme of South Africa.

5. Mncedisi Filtane the public representative

Mr Filtane joined the UDM’s parliamentarians in 2014 and was a complete natural. He was thought of as one of the most hardworking members of the National Assembly. He was always prepared for meetings and had diligently studied meeting materials.

Mr Filtane had a good mind for details, which made him well-suited for the law-making process.

He of course loved a good debate and was a master of the artful interjection.

In particular, he made a sterling contribution during his time as part of the Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation amending Section 25 of the Constitution.

In 2019 he became the UDM’s leader in the Eastern Cape Legislature and he used his well-honed skills to great effect.

The UDM will be forever indebted to him for his sterling contribution in both these legislatures.

6. How do we honour Mncedisi Filtane’s life?

It would be a sad day to see Mr Filtane’s labours go to waste; we cannot allow that to happen. In fact, the UDM must build on the hard work he has done to build this party and South Africa.

I want to echo the words of my deputy, and say to the UDM leaders and members in Mnquma, go search from inside the Party and without, for likeminded people to join the cause of transforming South Africa into a Winning Nation.

The 2021 Municipal Elections are less than a year away. That is not a lot of time to pull up our socks and find the Filtanes of this world to champion the UDM’s cause.

Talking to people, in person and on social media, I get the sense that great hopes are pinned on the UDM to affect change in the Eastern Cape.

Our responsibility as leaders and members of the UDM is to rise to the challenge and to be the change people want to see.

Lastly, we call on government to make sure the necessary budget is available and to speed up the process of having a Covid-19 vaccine given to our people for free and to first roll it out in areas like these as Covid-19 does not discriminate and these are vulnerable communities.

To Mr Filtane, we say: “Bon voyage Zizi, lala ngoxolo”.