Farewell address for Auditor-General

21 November 2013
Program Director
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
Once in our lifetime we are cursed or blessed by the presence of
greatness or mediocrity embodied by one of our kind. If its greatness or
mediocrity that graces our space and time, it is not necessary the
product of either privilege or deprivation per se, but possibly a
consequence of both character and circumstance which an individual
chooses to embrace, nurture and develop for the benefit of humankind.
Hence, in paraphrasing William Shakespeare, one can say some are
born great while others inherit greatness and there are those who work
for greatness.
So where do we place a man of Nombembe calibre in this instance. He
was neither born of privilege, nor arguably born great but certainly toiled
diligently under difficult conditions to be the best in whatever he does.
Here, we speak of a man who emerges from humble beginnings with the
odds stack against him. He has the wrong skin complexion in terms of
the Verwoedian doctrine, therefore he has no potential or capacity of
becoming anything better than a collector of water and a tiller of soil. He
was doomed from the day he was registered in the Bantu registration
book of birth just like the millions of us black people. He was never
accorded any opportunity to thrive.
Instead, he defied the imposed circumstances because he was born of a
great stock of warriors and heroines who refused to carry the yoke of
apartheid for eternity. He rose from the dust of black labour camps, the
townships, to the highest and revered office of the Auditor-General.
Being the first Black person to sit at the helm of a 95 year old institution
is no mean feat. This is an institution that was once aligned to the
prevailing thinking of the time. It was an institution that was used to
perpetuate and cover the corruption and plunder of the erstwhile rulers.
When he took reigns of the office, Auditor-General , Mr Terence
Nombembe, restored the dignity and impartiality of the office. He steered
the institution to a position of being one of the world’s best. He carried
his constitutional mandate with great diligence, commitment and strong
desire to serve the people of South Africa. He brooks no favours from
anyone. He remained ethical and focus to his mandate and instils in
many government people the values of good governance practice and
accountability. Many thought he was soft yet the softness belied the will
of steel in a man driven by desire to bring change. As a result of such
diligence, he raised the standard which many in the corridors of
government appreciate.
In my experience of interacting with Terrence Nombembe, I found in him
a man who was always willing to engage openly without any hidden
agenda. His approach was the one of constructive engagement instead
of an antagonistic one. Not even once in his work relating to Gauteng
Provincial government did he played to the gallery of the media by
sharing his findings prior to informing us in government about what his
report findings contain. He understood that his work was about assisting
government institutions to achieve optimal results in their activities.
It is this attitude and spirit that set him apart from his peers. It is for this
reason that, I want to say to Terrence Nombembe, you have been a light
when darkness descends. You made us see the holes and black spots
in our function. Through your patience and down-to-earth approach you
made us appreciate and understand the value of your institution in the
public sector.
On behalf of the Gauteng Provincial Government, I wish you well in your
future endeavours. We are going to miss your calmness and your
probing mind. But we hope you are not going to be lost forever in the
service of government and public in general.
Farewell, Auditor-General, Mr Terence Nombembe!