The ANC Veterans League is shocked to learn of the untimely death of Dr Magang Phologane.
DR P as he was affectionately known died after a short illness on the 9 July 2019 at his home in Pretoria.
Magang Mmereki Phologane was born on the 2nd of October 1956 in Mochudi Odi in the Republic of Botswana. He relocated with his parents to South Africa at the age of four and attended his high school at Orlando West High School in Soweto.
Dr P left South Africa in September 1976 after he was recruited by the African National Congress (ANC) underground machinery as a student leader to mobilise our youth and students during 1976 uprisings. One of South Africa’s poet laureates, Mazizi Kunene, refers to them as the angry generation who do not run away from the fire. He says they are the children of iron, the fearless bees of the night, the wrath of the volcanic mountain, the abiding anger of their ancestral forefathers.
He was part of a group of 12 that was taken out of the country by the late Comrade Robert Manci through Swaziland. He spent a few days in Nomahacha in Mozambique before proceeding to Tanzania. As a student leader, his qualities were immediately recognised as he was appointed to be one of the leaders in the group.
He spent some months in Dar es Salaam before they were shipped to Morogoro, specifically, Magadu Camp as youth and student numbers were increasing.
Magang remained in Magadu for months before he was sent, together with others, as the first group of ANC cadres to complete their High school education in Nigeria. The conditions then in Nigeria were very difficult.
However, thanks to his leadership qualities, Magang was able to hold the group together, although they were deployed at different institutions.
Coming back to Tanzania after completing his studies, he continued to be a leader amongst our youth and student structures. It was at this stage that an unfortunate situation arose. An enemy agent in our midst, after being identified and caught, decided to implicate Magang and Sello Pule as among those he worked with. Thanks to the maturity of the ANC security and intelligence structures, they were not arrested but sent to Lusaka were this matter was to be attended.
Their case received the attention of the highest office in the ANC. President Oliver Tambo took personal interest in the matter because he had met both these comrades and believed this could not have been possible given the dedication and commitment on these cadres. Earlier, President OR had taken Sello Pule with him to the United Nations where the ANC presented the experience of June 16th uprisings, methodically outlined by those who did not only experience the event, but were part of the leadership of students.
After all the investigations were completed Magang and the late Sello Pule were cleared of any wrong doing. They were subsequently sent for further studies in Romania where Magang once more demonstrated his exceptional capabilities and obtained a PhD. It was quite unfortunate that the dark experience of being labelled an enemy agent took a toll on both of them. We unfortunately lost Sello Pule to a suicide.
Magang lived with that painful experience to the last days of his life. However, because of the brave focused soldier he was, he never once saw the ANC as responsible for what he went through. He was always thankful that, had it not been for the diligence of our movement, the enemy that robbed him of his youth would have achieved its cruel agenda to destroy him and many others in the safety of our movement. Dr Phologane was one of the most intelligent and highly talented cadres of the ANC. He was God’s blessing to our country.
He was one of the flowers that we, the ANC and people of South Africa, would have benefitted so much more from his God given talent, wisdom and skills. Instead, we allowed this flower to wilt and perish. He was a light that was hidden and therefore, what we know and saw was only a glimpse of the great and awesome contribution Magang could have made in the interests of his beloved motherland.
With the advent of democratic governance in South Africa in 1994, he joined the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as a career diplomat. In this capacity, he served in numerous portfolios including as High Commissioner to Accra, Ghana, a SADC representative in Gaborone, Director for the African Union and a Director at the Foreign Service Institute where he gave lectures to trainee diplomats. Magang also had some stints, giving lectures at the at the NIA and SASS Institute, imparting his vast knowledge and experience in the most amusing fashion. He would, in this regard quote the poet George Rebelo saying: “I shall forge simple words, which, even children are able to understand.”
Magang single-handedly wrote three volumes on Intergovermental Protocol which helped our new democracy to deal with a part of the confusion, challenges and problems of managing a decentralised unitary state such as ours.
In 1999, Dr Phologane was posted to Ghana as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. He took office when South Africa’s relations with Ghana were at their lowest under Jerry Rawlings. President Mbeki visited Ghana at the end of Rawlings’ reign when the rebuilding of the relations started in earnest. The Mission worked with the President’s Chief of Staff, who was Ambassador Phologane’s friend. The relations became so strong that President Kufuor attended nearly all South Africa’s National Day celebrations.
It was during this time that the Liberian talks were in progress. Different parties, big and small, were welcomed to the Mission. It was no surprise that the Mission hosted the Chairman of the Liberian Transition Council on the day he was elected. It was a diplomatic coup. Doctor P, would rise in our ranks to be this giant that he became. A brave son of the soil, a very unassuming character, a person with a warm character who we always enjoyed to be around. Every one of his acquaintances will attest that Dr P never suffered fools. We shall never forget his infectious laughter and his penchant for throwing a curve joke at will.
Dr Magang Mmereki Phologane is survived by his wife- Nelly Maki Phologane, two sons, mother, two sisters and a brother
He will be sorely missed!
Issued by Snuki Zikalala
President of the ANC Veterans League