A Man for All Seasons: Politician with the Soul of a Poet

Tribute to Ohm Collins Chabane

Public Service Minister, Collins Chabane, and two of his colleagues, Sergeants Lesiba Sekele and Lawrence Lentsoane, died in a vehicle accident.

Ohm Collins Chabane was born on 15 April 1960 in the Xikundu Village, Limpopo Province (then Northern Transvaal). He died violently in a car crash in the early hours of Sunday morning. People around South Africa are mourning this giant of a man who will be given an official state funeral.

He was a Member of the African National Congress (ANC) underground, prisoner on Robben Island, previous MEC for Limpopo’s Economic Development, Environment and Tourism. Most recently Minister in the Presidency and musician.

He attended Shingwedzi High School, and at the age of 17 he joined the ANC underground. Chabane was also a member of the Azanian Student Organisation (Azaso).

He registered for a Bachelor in Science at Turfloop University, but a year later, in May 1980, he went into exile, when he joined Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). Chabane also went to Angola for military training in 1980, and began work underground in 1981.

Chabane was arrested by the Security Police in 1984 and was sentenced to six years imprisonment on charges of terrorism. He was imprisoned at the same time as Tokyo Sexwale, Kgalema Mothlanthe, Mosiua Lekota and Popo Molefe.

During his time in prison he obtained a Diploma in Electrical Engineering from Technikon South Africa, and studied aviation. Chabane also holds a Diploma in Management from Arusha in Tanzania.

Chabane developed his interest in music while in prison, where he learnt music theory and how to play the harmonica from Bafana Sithole.

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After his release, Chabane was elected to parliament in 1994, where he served on the constitutional affairs, defence and intelligence committees. In 1997, he was appointed as a MEC for Limpopo, in Premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi’s cabinet. In 1998, he was then moved to public works, where he is credited as having established the province’s Road’s Agency.

Chabane was granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1999.

His job as Minster in the Presidency was to create greater cohesion and effective systems in Government, and to alert the appropriate departments when problems arose. Chabane headed the transitional management team that reshaped the present cabinet.

His previous position, prior to entering national government, was as Limpopo’s MEC for Economic Development, Environment and Tourism

Chabane headed a marimba band called Movement that recorded two CDs.

References

SA History Online at http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/ohm-collins-chabane

“Collins Chabane: Hero on the Rise” [online] Available at: www.thetimes.co.za [Accessed 12 June 2009]

Isaacson, M. (2009) “Collins Chabane”. The Sunday Independent. 24 May 2009 edition, page 6.

Mr. Ohm Collins Chabane [online] Available at: www.whoswhosa.co.za [Accessed 12 June 2009]

Profile: Collins Chabane [online] Available at: www.politicsweb.co.za [Accessed 12 June 2009]

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