Makhenkesi Stofile 2000


Makhenkesi Arnold Stofile was born on 27 December 1944 in the Winterberg district of Adelaide in the Eastern Cape. He was the first of seven sons of Simon and Tozana Stofile who were farm labourers at the time. In 1952 his family moved to Port Elizabeth, where he matriculated at Newell High School.
He had his first initiation in to politics at Newell High School, through his involvement in the short-lived African Students of South Africa organization. Despite many disruptions to his education, in 1966 he was one of only two Newell High matriculants to obtain the JMB exemption pass.
After matriculating he worked as a machine operator for a number of years in a textile factory in Port Elizabeth. During this time, the late Reverend JJR Jolobe persuaded the then Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa to give him a bursary to study theology at the University of Fort Hare.
He obtained his BA (1971), BTh (1974), BThHons (1975), Hons BA (1977) and MTh (1979) degrees from Fort Hare. He remained at the university – as student, lecturer and activist – until 1986 when he was arrested and sentenced to 11½ years imprisonment. During his time at Fort Hare, he assumed leadership positions in student and staff politics, civic matters, sport and the church. He worked again at Fort Hare from 1992 to 1994.
Abroad, he completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Theology (1981) in Germany and an MA (1983) at Princeton University in the USA. Since 1975 he has been a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa.
Rev Stofile was recruited into the underground structures of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1970. By 1974, he was chairperson of the Area Political Committee for Alice and Fort Beaufort. He was regional secretary and a National Executive Committee member of the United Democratic Front (UDF) from 1983 to 1986.
With the unbanning of the ANC, he served in a number of provincial and national capacities. He was an ANC Member of Parliament and the party’s Chief Whip in Parliament from 1994 to 1997. In 1994 he was elected ANC Treasurer General. He has served as Premier of the Eastern Cape Province since 1997 and is also the provincial chairperson of the ANC.
He also served for many years as a provincial and national sports administrator, in positions including the Vice Presidency of the National Sports Congress, membership of the Executive Council of the South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) and Chairmanship of SARFU’s Development Committee.
Rev Stofile has also served on the Governing Council of the University of Fort Hare and of the Eastern Cape Technikon, and on the boards of a number of non-government organisations (NGOs).
Through his involvement in many spheres of politics and civil society, Rev Stofile has consistently displayed vision, outstanding leadership qualities, unshakeable principles and a passion for the truth.
He fought courageously in the struggle for a free and democratic South Africa and he continues to work towards shaping it for the betterment of all its citizens. As Premier of the complex and diverse Eastern Cape Province, he has worked hard to unite the region and to bring about sound governance.
His achievements in this regard include the establishment of an Anti-corruption Unit; a Special Programmes Unit which deals with issues relating to the Youth, Gender and the Disabled; international agreements for co-operation and assistance; comprehensive audit procedures; an enabling framework for planning and human resource development; and the centralization of financial control and management. He has also worked against heavy odds to eliminate “ghost” employees in the provincial public service.
The University of Port Elizabeth wishes to honour the Rev Makhenkesi Stofile with an honorary doctorate for fearlessly standing for the truth, for allowing the truth to inform his vision, and for his commitment and service to his fellowmen.