Former Pan-Africanist Congress President, Clarence Mlamli Makwetu has passed on after battling with a protracted illness. The struggle icon died on Friday afternoon. He was 88 years old.
Confirming the demise in a statement, the PAC stated that the icon died in Queenstown private hospital. The party also conveyed their heartfelt sympathy to the deceased family. PAC spokesman, Kenneth Mokgatlhe said Makwetu always held the country’s leaders to account.
“He passed on at 13h30 today in Queenstown Private Hospital. He has always been so critical of the government today, like he was critical of government during apartheid. The last he did he was critical and spoke about the issue of land not being returned to its rightful owners.”
Makwetu joined politics in 1954 and actively retired in 1996. He became PAC president soon after its unbanning in 1990, a position he held until 1996. The struggle icon also led PAC to the first democratic elections in 1994.
It is worthy to note that his exit from PAC saw the party splitting to form the Pan-Africanist Movement (PAM). He subsequently lost his position in Parliament and went on to join Thami ka-Plaatjie’s PAM but continued to enjoined PAM and PAC leaders to form a coalition.
Makwetu was born in December 1928 in the Cofimvaba area of the Eastern Cape and was awarded the Order of Luthuli in Silver by the Presidency for his contribution to the struggle for a non-racial‚ non-sexist‚ just and democratic South Africa.
Meanwhile, President Zuma has consoled the family of the late struggle stalwart. Speaking more about the life of the former Robben Island prisoner and PAC leader, Zuma said;
“In Comrade Clarence Makwetu, the nation has lost one of its true stalwarts and freedom fighters. We therefore wish to convey our deepest condolences to his family and his organisation, the Pan Africanist Congress. May his soul rest in peace.”
Pan Africanist Congress was formed in 1959 after a breakaway from the African National Congress. The party’s first and most successful campaign was the protest against the pass laws – a campaign which was to prove to be a significant turning point for South Africa.