Fallen anti-apartheid heroes Oliver Reginald Tambo and Walter Sisulu have been dubbed honest men with ethics, who would not have been seduced by money if they were still alive.
As part of the 100-year celebration of the late ANC president, Tambo, the Mail & Guardian, Sanral and Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation held a Critical Thinking Forum on Tambo’s leadership lessons, at the Wits School of Governance, on Tuesday evening, with a panel that consisted of Sheila Sisulu, Advocate Ngoako Ramatlhodi and Barbara Masekela.
Sheila Sisulu said someone known to the family attempted to buy her father-in-law a house worth R1 million, but he declined the offer. She said when the offer was presented, Sisulu was shocked because he did not understand why someone would think that his house was inadequate.
Sisulu is believed to have remarked, “I have a house and there are many people who don’t have houses.”
Sheila said Sisulu “went to jail not knowing money and returned still not knowing money, therefore, he would not have been seduced by money.”
She added that money was not an issue to him because when he served the ANC as the Secretary General they had promised to pay him £5, “but that never materialised”. That did not matter to him though, because his focus was about serving the people and not to be regarded as a leader.
Sheila said before they went to parliament, “all the ANC executive leadership earned the same salary, R2 500, but I stand to be corrected… He did not know that money comes first, but service came first.”
Former South African ambassador to the United States Masekela said Tambo wanted to be a priest in the Anglican Church and it was a difficult position for him to move into politics.
She also reiterated that Tambo would not have been seduced by money, he respected life, lived a much disciplined life and had a heart for the people.
“He loved humanity… It was not about political ambition, it was about service to the people. He was inspired by the people of South Africa. He did not talk discipline because he was disciplined.”