President Cyril Ramaphosa has joined the nation in mourning and remembrance of respected broadcaster and public speaker Xolani Gwala.
The President learnt of Gwala’s passing while en route to Yokohama, Japan, where he will lead the nation’s support for the national rugby team - the Springboks.
In light of the President’s absence, Acting President Angie Motshekga relayed the President’s message of condolence to the Gwala family, friends and colleagues in the media fraternity in South Africa and abroad.
“We have lost a youthful veteran in an important sector in our country. As a professional who qualified in the mid-1990s, Xolani Gwala carried with him the values of our transition to democracy – the values of listening and being open to views that conflict with or offend your own, and a focus on solutions,” said President Ramaphosa.
Gwala passed away at the age of 44 in the early hours of Friday morning after a battle with colon cancer.
“We will miss his voice, his insight and his love for our country but we will remain grateful that he gave a voice to thousands of South Africans who shared their joys and frustrations in life on the many platforms Xolani commanded with excellence,” said the President.
Gwala, who last served as a senior host on Talk Radio 702, established his reputation as a media professional during a career that took him from newsreader on Ukhozi FM to P4 Radio in KwaZulu-Natal in the mid-1990s, to various radio and television platforms at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
A decade ago he was appointed news editor at a radio station based in Ramallah in the Palestinian territory.
“While he became a prominent public figure, he never placed himself ahead of the interests and needs of large numbers of South Africans who trusted his platforms as safe spaces for dialogue and engagement.
“He never shied away from tough questions and from holding people in public office to account, but he never let his cross-examination impugn the dignity of anyone with whom he interacted,” said the President.
While Gwala was known for his hard-hitting journalism, he is revered for his ability to bring the issues at hand closer to home.
“At the same time, he understood that public education was not only about the cut and thrust of debate but also about unpacking, in easily understandable terms, the attributes of our democracy and the development of our economy,” said the President.
Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) also sent its message of condolence and support following the broadcaster’s passing.
“His dedication to his profession and work ethic had earned him honour, respect, and recognition in the industry. Xolani was known for asking the difficult questions and this bears testament to the advanced media freedom and freedom of expression in our country,” the GCIS said.
Reflecting on Gwala’s passing, the GCIS said he had contributed immensely to the transformational media approach in informing, education and entertaining. – SAnews.gov.za