Tributes for former ambassador Funde

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Tributes are pouring in for former South African ambassador to Germany and SABC board chairperson Sonwabo Eddie Funde.

Funde passed away on Tuesday reportedly after he went into cardiac arrest.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said she was saddened by the passing of Funde who contributed immensely to the development of South Africa’s diplomatic relations, particularly with Germany.

"During his stint in Berlin, Ambassador Funde laid the foundation for what is now a solid political, economic, trade and people-to-people relationship between South Africa and Germany," said Sisulu.

The minister added that Funde belonged to a generation of exiled activists who fought for freedom and returned home to contribute towards normalising South Africa's relations with Africa and the world.

Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele described Funde as one of the pioneers of the post-apartheid information and communications technology policy and regulatory environment.

“We give our collective thank you to the Funde family for allowing the nation to share in the life of this visionary for the sector. His life-long activism for the upliftment of Black people influenced the trajectory of the telecommunications sector in South Africa and the region,” said Cwele.

Funde’s foresight saw him work with government in the development of the 1996 White Paper on Telecommunications Policy which resulted in the formation of the SA Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA).

He later led SATRA as its deputy chairperson. His sense of collectivism saw him being elected as the founding Chairperson of the Telecommunications Regulators of Southern Africa, which has since been renamed Communications Regulators Association of Southern Africa.

Cwele said Funde's pioneering work laid the foundation for the regulation and liberalisation of the telecommunications sector.

He also served as Deputy Chairman of the Presidential National Commission on Information Society and Development before he became the SA's Ambassador to Germany. -