Friday , June 14 2024

Pahad Essop: Remembering South Africa’s Anti-Apartheid Icon

Essop Pahad, a renowned figure in South African politics and a former Minister in the Presidency, died on Friday morning at the age of 84, according to a statement from his family.

Because of his personal friendship with the late President Thabo Mbeki and his ability to shape policy, Pahad gained a reputation as a reliable confidant and strategic thinker.

Pahad’s political career began in the late 1960s when he joined the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress as an anti-apartheid activist. He was imprisoned by the apartheid government as a result of his unflinching dedication to the cause, following which he sought asylum in exile and joined the African National Congress (ANC) actively.

In what was then the Transvaal Province, Pahad was born in Schweizer-Reneke. He had attended both the University of Sussex and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). He began his academic career at Wits, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science. He earned both a PhD in history and a Master of Arts in African politics at the University of Sussex. The Development of Indian Political Movements in South Africa 1924–1946 was the topic of his thesis. He was Aziz Pahad’s brother.

His involvement in the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress in 1958 marked the beginning of his political career. Pahad was detained in 1962 for planning an unlawful strike when the African National Congress was outlawed. Pahad was exiled and given a five-year ban in December 1964. Pahad increased his involvement with the ANC and the SACP while living in exile. On the editorial board of the World Marxist Review, he represented the SACP.

Pahad worked as Thabo Mbeki’s parliamentary counselor following the 1994 general election in South Africa. After the 1999 presidential election, he was chosen to be the Minister in the Presidency. In spite of several reports to the contrary, it was claimed in 2000 that Pahad attempted to stop an investigation into wrongdoing in the Arms Deal during a closed meeting of the ANC’s governance committee. Pahad refuted this accusation.

In order to pay Ronald Suresh Roberts to write a biography of the then-President Mbeki, Pahad also helped raise R1.55 million from business sponsors.

He offered his resignation as Minister in September 2008, following Mbeki’s departure as President of South Africa.

Pahad, a member of the organising committee for the South African 2010 FIFA World Cup, asserted in 2008 that white South Africans wanted the event to fail. According to a Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) survey conducted independently, white South Africans really supported the event in the majority in January 2010.

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