Mphephethwa as he was affectionately known ,succumbed to cancer after an arduous battle with the chronic illness since 2017.
His death has abruptly put to a grinding halt a chequered 20 year career as a news anchor, producer, talk show host, news editor and current affairs honcho.
Perhaps, Marxist realist Nikolai Otrovsky had in mind the likes of Mphephethwa when he penned his seminal piece ‘ how the steel was tempered’ he writes:
‘ Man’s dearest possession is life, it is given unto him but once and he must live to it to feel no torturing regrets for wasted years….live so that in dying you must say, all my life and all my strength were given to the finest cause of this world… the fight for the liberation of mankind’
To us the workers of neo-liberal South Africa, Mphephethwa was a polemical partner for the dissemination of knowledge and information towards a well informed public.
Xolani Gwala was a shining example of Africans centered around ‘ Ubuntu’ ‘Botho’ ‘Mesnslikheid’. He was down to earth and extremely humble. He had the humility that was so disarming!
He was so respectful to the old and the young, making it his business for people to feel comfortable and assured, he had that easy laugh that came from the heart. Yet he was such a professional who never allowed his natural character between him and his relentless search for the truth when interviewing the most powerful in society.
We would dearly miss his electrifying voice that reverberated our airwaves for two decades with outmost precision.
His death comes at a time when our government has effectively demobilized Trade Unions and other participatory democratic structures since 1996 following the adoption of disastrous economic policies without consultation like Gear.
He shared our plight through his robust polemic engagements to grow our Unions and by extension deepening democracy though a tit for tat battle of ideas in our national discourse.
His charisma and intellectual prowess buttered with a disarming sense of humor was devoid of lumpen militancy which has somewhat usurped our public discourse.
Total freedom requires that we do not only analyze the world but also seek to change it.
In his honor the workers under Will revolutionize rather than ‘professionalize’ Trade Unions.
We can’t however we do so with a set of inaccurate and false ideas. Mphephethwa was also a worker, part of the hundreds of South African Journalists who get exploited by media bosses, there’s currently no public benchmark on salaries of journalists as this is upon individual media houses.
His death should be a stark reminder to members of the fourth Estate our journalists that they too like Gwala, are workers, they must swell the ranks of SAFTU affiliated Unions and avoid legal insurances, SAFTU says to journalists organize don’t litigate!
His death brings to the fore how our people spend millions on treatment only to die. Once diagnosed with cancer, those who start treatment simply wither away.
According to a 2017 Cancer Medicines Report, a year’s supply of cancer medicine lenalidomide was less than R32000 in India, but cost R882000 in South Africa. added to this ‘ is a highly restrictive patenting system in South Africa , putting the brakes on competition which could lower prices.’
This report analyzed patent status, affordability and accessibility to 24 medicines 15 were available in India for less than half price in South African private sector.
The South African government is allowing patents to be granted on many cancer drugs , which then allows pharmaceutical companies to charge high prices. South Africa’s outdated patent laws are currently a critical factor driving the vast price difference in oncology drugs . The most vulnerable and sick are used by pharmaceutical companies to maximize profit!
We believe that the profiteers, the Big Pharmaceutical companies are massacring our people for profits. Chemotherapy and radiation is deadly.
Our hearts and prayers go out to Xolani Gwala ( 44) family, his loving wife former Miss South Africa Peggy Sue Khumalo, extended family, colleagues, friends and news lovers across the land and breadth of South Africa, Africa and the world.
We will miss that persuasive baritone that compelled the reluctant listener to be glued to the screen ending up being lost in that marvelous voice complemented by an astute and probing journalistic mi
Hamba Kahle Mphephethwa,Majiya Ka-Mashika!