SABC expresses sadness over Ben Ngubane’s passing, IFP describes him as a remarkable leader

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The SABC says it is saddened by the passing of its former board chairperson, Dr Ben Ngubane.

The public broadcaster says, in a statement, that one of the corporation’s biggest achievements under Ngubane’s tenure – was when it became the official broadcaster of the historic 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Group Executive for Corporate Affairs and Marketing, Gugu Ntuli, says the SABC is thankful for Ngubane’s immense contribution and would like to extend heartfelt condolences to his family.

Ngubane died at the age of 79 after loosing his battle with COVID-19.

Tributes continue to pour in for him, with IFP leader Velenkosini Buthelezi describing him as a remarkable leader, who made a tremendous contribution to South Africa’s governance and democracy.

“Dr Ngubane played a major role within the structure of the IFP until he became the national chairperson of the IFP. In government Dr Ngubane represented the IFP well. It is painful that we lose Dr Ngubane during the time of havoc that is devastating the economy and infrastructure in KZN which Ngubane devoted his efforts in building the economic growth and social justice,” says Buthelezi.

Tributes pour in for Dr Ngubane:

Ngubane’s background

Ngubane was born in 1941 at the Inchanga Roman Catholic Mission in Camperdown in KwaZulu-Natal. He began his political career in the early 70s while at the University of Natal’s medical school.

There, he served as the vice president of the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS). He joined the IFP in 1976, eventually becoming its national chairperson.

Ngubane joined government in 1994, when he was appointed the first Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology. A portfolio he would serve in again in 1999. This was shortly after becoming Kwazulu-Natal premier two years prior.

“When I become Minister of Science and Technology in 2009, I had the pleasure of benefitting from the solid foundation that Dr Ngubane and my other predecessors had put in place. It made it easy for us to focus on speeding up the implementation of the projects they had started. South Africa owes a debt of gratitude to Dr Ngubane for pioneering our science and technology,” Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Dr Naledi Pandor, has said.

Ngubane was appointed South Africa’s ambassador to Japan in 2004.

In 2006, he ended his long-term relationship with the IFP when he resigned from the party to join the African National Congress (ANC).

He previously served at the helm of parastatals like Eskom and the SABC.

In 2020, he testified at the State Capture Commission on alleged wrongdoing by entities contracted by Eskom and linked to the Gupta family.

In the health sector, he’s been lauded for his role in changing the landscape of private healthcare in Kwazulu-Natal.

Melomed Private Hospital Manager, Randal Pedro, says: “Dr Ngubane played a pivotal role in the transformation of the private health care landscape in Northern KZN in his advisory capacity and we will personally miss his guidance and teaching. Melomed Richards bay were privileged to have his years of loyal patronage and support not just as a patient but as a adversary for access to health care and in doing so upholding his oath as a medical doctor.”

Ngubane had been admitted to hospital for two weeks at the time of his passing.

“Until last Tuesday he made a funny comment which was giving me hope that he’s going to recover. He said he was able to go and take a shower by himself while he’s in hospital and after that one could not access him until last week, his daughter informed his father is not in good shape, even yesterday she said anything could happen. This morning we received a message that he has passed on,” family spokesperson, Mondli Kunene, told SABC News.

Dr Ngubane leaves behind his wife and children. – Additional reporting by Phumzile Mlangeni