TRIBUTE TO CDE THIVHILELI MUTOBVU
By Cde Enos Nephawe
25 January 2021
First he was my comrade, then he became my friend, then he became my very close friend, then everything became blurred that I couldn’t tell which was which except to know that we needed each other to make sense of the world that we found ourselves in.
Now he is gone, the future looks bleak and gloomy for those of us who are still fighting for freedom.
I was introduced to him by the late, again my very best friend and my comrade Bra Saul Raphalalani when we had to do a special assignment in this region in the early eighties. He was younger than me, but I realized from the onset that this young man was a special kind of a character whose determination to complete a task was unstoppable.
He knew that older as I was I had no courage to match his, so he seamlessly took the leadership of all the projects and I happily obliged.
I can state without fear of contradiction that the eighties saw the rise of AZAPO to an unprecedented level in this Vhembe Region which in AZAPO circles was notoriously known as Uganda under Idi Amin whose equivalent was Patrick Mphephu.
Notwithstanding the heavy-handedness of the Mphephu regime Mutobvu never gave in. He was in and out of prison many times for anybody who cares to count. In this, the Vhembe region Mutobvu and AZAPO names could be used interchangeably. You talk to anybody about Mutobvu they will ask you if you are talking about Mutobvu of AZAPO.
Then came the Workers Union chapter. He initiated the establishment of the Allied Workers Union which recruited every worker from all the shops in the Thohoyandou CBD and all Plants in the Shayandima industrial area. We even had Venda Sun under our control.
I was the President and he was the Secretary in control of the all the documents which we sometimes falsify in order to reach a 50% +1 threshold for Union recognition. (Cde) Thabang Cobra Mothlodisi would be working in the Union Office and we took him along with us for some wage negotiations. He led strikes where negotiations had stalled.
He was a man with solid and unwavering principles. It was under his leadership that the Kempton Park negotiation took place. Some cadres of Azapo mooted a scenario where the organization could have an alliance with parties like Dikwankwethla to contest the elections. Comrade NEF (Pandelani Nefolovhodwe) was tasked to consult regions to get their views. It was under the leadership of Mutobvu that a resounding NO for that position was given from this region . AZAPO had no optipon but to stick to its declared position.
This man was himself original as he was cut by his Creator, no sugar added no colorants and no preservatives. You had to accept him as he was or you don’t, the choice was yours. Had he not been like that I tell you he would have died a very rich man. People like him were prone to be bought by White Monopoly Capital. Some of our leadership could not resist the temptation of their freedom in their lifetime and succumbed to the pressure of white monopoly capital and their cronies.
To Thivhileli and some of us the struggle still continues. The only problem is that we have lost a gallant fighter and it will be very difficult to regroup. But our dream of total liberation is going to be realized. It can be delayed but it cannot be denied.
As for me I have lost a friend a comrade a political analyst a counselor and this is in addition to the recent loss of Bra Saul Raphalalani who mentored us both. What is left for me is to be stale and gather rust until people hardly recognize me.
Go in peace Comrade and friend Thivhileli.
They say HEROES DON’T DIE THEY MERELY FADE AWAY.