The ANC Veterans’ League expresses its heartfelt condolences on the passing of one of its veterans, Cde Solly Mokoetle.
Also known as Solly Mpoli in Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) circles, Solly Mokoetle left the country during the first half of 1976. As the influx into the ANC, especially of young people, was intensifying, the movement had to find countries to place its personnel for both military and academic training.
The other critical area for the ANC was radio broadcasting from the Frontline States to the masses inside South Africa largely because of the ubiquitous nature of communications. At that stage, Radio Freedom was hosted by two countries, Tanzania and Zambia. The movement envisaged that as the struggle intensified, there would be a need to open more centres of broadcasting. This was to ensure that the voice of the ANC reached as many South African homes as possible.
From that point of view, a group of ten was sent to Moscow to specialise in Broadcasting. The group of ten consisted of the following cadres:
Solly Mokoetle, Zaba Maledza, Zanempi Sihlangu, Sipho “Mbokotho” Moloto, Sello Moeti, Musa Nkosi, Richmond Ramotse, Edward Dube, Scotch Duma and Don “City” Ngubeni. They returned to Angola at the beginning of 1977. This was when the ANC had approached and requested the Angolan government, under the leadership of Agostinho Neto for the utilisation of their broadcast facilities.
In the interim, Solly’s group underwent military training with the June 16 Detachment in Benguela Province. The first broadcast of Radio Freedom from Luanda took place in June 1977, with Solly Mokoetle as Head of the unit. During this post-June 16 era, the Director of Radio Freedom was Comrade Pallo Jordaan.
Solly remained at the helm of Radio Freedom Luanda throughout 1977 and 1978. He was later deployed as Head of Radio Freedom in Tananarive, Madagascar in 1979. This was after then Malagasy President, Didier Ratsiraka, offered the ANC broadcast rights.
In 1982, Solly’s leadership skills took him to Radio Freedom in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia which had been broadcasting since October 1981. Solly was part of the second batch to be sent overseas for a half-year course at Radio Netherlands Training Centre in Hilversum, where he acquired advanced techniques in Radio Production.
Throughout his career on Radio Freedom, Solly was known for his trademark greeting at the beginning of the program which he did in Sesotho. He would greet domestic workers, farm workers, factory workers, schools, church congregants, passengers on trains etc.
He was a diligent broadcaster who spent his time reading, researching and preparing, for his next broadcast script. He would chair meetings where weekly programmes would be discussed and prepare a weekly schedule of broadcast programmes consisting of news, commentaries, features, documentaries, interviews, letters from home and various genres of music.
Every script that went on air would have gone through his thorough editorial scrutiny. He ensured that every program of the day would be well received by audiences inside the country. He had always been a single-minded cadre of unflagging morale under testing circumstances.
Solly left for tertiary studies in Canada in 1989 and came back to South Africa armed with a Master’s degree in Mass Communication in 1993. During that same year, he entered the SABC arena as Senior General Manager: Radio. He later became COO and finally GCEO.
Mokoetle finally succumbed to a stroke on 16 November 2019.
The ANC Veterans League dips its revolutionary banner in honour of this brave son of the soil.