Statement of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation on the passing of Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo.

January 21, 2019.

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF) joins millions of South Africans and the rest of the world in mourning last night’s passing of Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo.

For over three decades, Amb. Kumalo represented the cause of the people of South Africa, the larger African Continent and the world loyally, with passion, dedication and distinction.

In his young days, he used the might of the pen as a journalist working for various newspapers such as the Golden City Post, The World, Drum and the Sunday Times to fight the apartheid crime against humanity. During that time, he founded the Union of Black Journalists whose members refused to close their eyes and ears from the inhumanity of apartheid. He left the country for exile in the United States in 1977.

While in exile, Amb Kumalo became a key figure in the anti-apartheid divestment campaign which led to the passage of the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 by the US Congress. In this context, he played an important role in mobilising members of Congress to override then President Ronald Reagan’s veto to the Bill which he had vetoed because, as he put it: “Punitive sanctions, I believe, are not the best course of action; they hurt the very people they are intended to help.”

Following the 1994 democratic victory, Amb Kumalo became our country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations during the years 1999 to 2009. In this role, he was instrumental in the reintroduction of our country to the global community of nations.

Amb Kumalo played a crucial role in securing our country a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council between 2006 and 2008. Coming from the ranks of the liberation struggle, Amb Kumalo required no tutelage to appreciate that he was not only a representative of his country but part of the larger contingent of the African and Global South diplomats whose primary task is to serve as a united voice of the Wretched of the Earth.

Sometimes at the risk of personal ridicule and vilification, Amb Kumalo promoted and defended multilateralism and respect for international law as critical instruments for the resolution of global peace and security challenges. He simultaneously took to battle in defence of sovereignty; thus resisting the imposition of the will of the powerful on smaller and weaker states. Among other experiences, we recall his eloquent articulation of his country’s opposition to the 2003 War/invasion of/in Iraq and his insistence on the strict adherence to UN Charter.

“The African Agenda” occupied Dumisani Kumalo’s mind as a lifelong vocation. He was a true Pan Africanist who believed in the unity of Africa as an essential condition for the Continent to address her challenges so as to improve the lives of the peoples of Africa for the better.

On his retirement from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Amb Kumalo served as the Chief Executive Officer of the TMF until 2015. His contribution to the work of the TMF will forever be appreciated, particularly the establishment of the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI), a TMF initiative in partnership with UNISA, which trains young people in order to contribute to the development of a cadre of thought leaders on the African Continent.

The Patron, the board and staff of the TMF extend our deepest condolences to the Kumalo family, his Comrades and friends.

We have lost a true representative of the people of South Africa, Africa and the world. We will fondly remember his drive, his soft but assertive and principled voice which earned him and our country immense respect among the nations of the world.

May his soul rest peace.

Issued by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation

For enquiries: Siyabulela Gebe, +(0) 27 72 371 4807

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