Lourence Molai, the current National Treasurer of AZAPO, began his political activism in 1980 when he joined AZAPO in Pretoria which was then led by Cde. Thabo Sehume, a local AZAPO stalwart. As part of his formal induction into the local structures of AZAPO, Lawrence had to undergo intensive political education. The following year he was elected as an executive committee member of the Atteridgeville AZAPO branch and was then deployed to mobilize the youth and students in Atteridgeville.
During the course of his political work Lourence was arrested at the SA-Botswana border (and locked up at Rooigrond Police Station) in January 1982, where he was interrogated about his political activities. In those days, routine polices searches were the norm and it is during one such searches that numerous banned books were found in his possession. This lead to another arrest, which as he puts it “strengthened my conviction”, and led to him working fulltime for AZAPO in Atteridgeville.
Under the leadership of AZAPO, Cde Thabo Sehume and Lourence joined forces with Comrade Nkosi Molala (National President of Azapo from 1985-1990), who had just been released from prison in 1983, and led the development of the local branch. It was during this period that the local Civic Association, ASRO (Atteridgeville Saulsville Residents Organisation) was formed through the efforts of the Attridgeville branch of AZAPO. The mobilisation for the formation of ASRO was a project that was lead by Cde Lourence, Cde. Nkosi Molala and Thabo Sehume
While volunteering for PADAO (Pretoria and District Advice Office), an advice centre which was started by Azapo in Tshwane, Cde Lourence got involved in an effort to sue Transnet after a train accident that led to the injury of three thousand (3,000) passengers. His specific responsibilities were to coordinate community meetings, meetings with lawyers and taking individual statement of the injured. The case finally went to court after five years and members of the community received substantial settlements from Transnet.
As the Attridgeville branch of AZAPO grew, it took on more community struggles and expanded it operation base ,forming links with other comrades in Garankuwa, Mamelodi, Mabopane, Hammanskraal, Denilton, Moutse, and Tembisa. With the greater involvement of the branch in community struggles, the responsibilities of Cde Lourence grew proportionately. He became responsible for planning, coordinating and launching boycotts against the tricameral parliament, the rent boycott of 1985 and mobilizing the community against the elections.
While still organising the local community through the Attridgeville branch of AZAPO, Cde Lourence started volunteering at the AZAPO head office in Johannesburg (under the guidance and tutelage of Cde Nkosi Molala, Lybon Mabasa, Muntu Myeza, and Pandelani Nefolovhodwe), this went on for two years. In his capacity as a volunteer at AZAPO’s head office Cde Lourence got involved in the national balloting process – balloting workers in mines in the Klerksdorp area- by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which led to the country’s biggest mining strike in 1987, when about 200,000 members of the National Union of Mineworkers commenced the longest strike (three weeks) in South African history
In 1988 Cde Lourence was deployed by AZAPO to be the General Secretary of the Azanian Students Movement (AZASM), Azapo’s student wing. This was a fulltime deployment precipitated by the elected General Secretary’s abandoning the post due to family and political pressures. For the next two years Cde Lourence dedicated himself to the student movement.
After completing his tour of duty in the students’ movement Cde Lourence was then deployed by AZAPO to serve in the trade union movement. As part of his deployment he was employed as a National Organiser for Transport & General Workers Union (TGWU), and serviced workers in Pretoria, Marble Hall, Germiston and environs. Cde Lourence and other Cdes from AZAPO were forced to resign and leave the union when it adopted a “[freedom]Charterist political line”.
Cde Lourence has also had a successful professional life outside the “revolution”. He is a marketing and communications professional with more than fifteen (15) years experience in marketing and advertising, covering areas such as market research, strategy development, CI development, brand management, and media relations.
Throughout his career, he has been involved in various telecommunication marketing and communication assignments. In 2001 Lourence was recruited from Telkom, where he held the post of Senior Manager: Corporate Brand Management, to join Econet Wireless International (EWI), a telecommunications start up, in the period leading up to their launch of cellular services in Nigeria. He relocated to Lagos, and after spending three years in Nigeria returned to South Africa where he joined TBWA\Gavin Reddy as a Business Unit Director, and was responsible for MTN’s below the line account. He was instrumental in managing the success of MTN’s Yello summer campaign. Later, he left to become the Managing Director in Nigeria of 8seconds: Image and Brand Creation, doing consulting work for companies including Vodacom and MTN Nigeria, among others. After more than two years with the company, Lourence left to start his own company, FrankTalk Communications.