SCRIPTED endings to careers have always been rare in the workplace.
Too often loyal employees hobble into retirement on the arm of a physiotherapist, or choose euthanasia, a quick pre-emptive press conference to avoid the indignity of being pushed out of employment.
But the late Ronnie Mamoepa, who was spokesperson for deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, passed on just before midnight on Saturday, performed his government communication with great aplomb, dedication, skill and attention to detail. After the height of the much-maligned apartheid era, Mamoepa was a thrown behind bars among political prisoners.
But as the democratic dispensation dawned in South Africa, he became a member of the Gauteng provincial legislature. For many years, he was a highly veneration public servant and spin doctor par excellence who served the African National Congress and various departments in government with unmatched merit.
In his latest role, since 2014, Mamoepa served as spokesperson for the deputy president. The veteran spokesperson took ill a month ago and had to undergo surgery.
Mamoepa died after complications arising from a stroke he suffered last month at the age of 56, according to his family. As early as the wee hours of Sunday after the presidency confirmed his passing, tributes started pouring in as Mamoepa was revered in politics and the wider government communication sector.
President Jacob Zuma and Ramaphosa were among those who conveyed their sincere condolences to Mamoepa’s family and friends.
In a statement, Ramaphosa said, “This is a great loss to me personally, the presidency and government at large. However, our thoughts are firstly and foremost, with Ronnie’s wife Audrey, his children and his siblings. I offer my sincere condolence to Ronnie’s relatives, friends, comrades and colleagues who have suffered the loss of someone who was much loved and respected across our country and beyond.”
Groovin Nchabeleng, spokesperson for the Mamoepa family said the family is asking the people of South Africa to join them in their prayer as they come to terms with the passing the one of their icons.
Nchabeleng said, “The Mamoepa family also appreciates the close interest taken in Ronnie’s wellbeing by the management and staff of the Presidency as well as the Minister and Deputy Minister of Health Doctors Aaron Motsoaledi and Gwen Ramokgopa. Our thanks also go to senior specialists who volunteered their services to care for Ronnie and comfort the family.”
Ramaphosa’ acting spokesperson, Tyron Seale, said details of memorial services will be made known as soon as the Mamoepa family have finalised them.