Home Affairs Bids Farewell to Dlamini Zuma
Pretoria — The Department of Home Affairs on Wednesday bade farewell to Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in a bitter sweet ceremony ahead of her taking up her seat as chairperson of the African Union Commission.
As officials of all levels - from the cleaners to the director-general - paid tribute to the minister for her contribution to the department, Dlamini Zuma, among many others, found herself overcome with emotion.
Her inspirational leadership was also noted and honoured by the stakeholder forum, the Film and Publications Board, Government Printing Works and the Independent Electoral Commission.
For her part, Dlamini Zuma admitted to having mixed feelings - sad to leave behind a team that she worked exceptionally well with but excited about the new challenge that lay ahead.
She was hopeful that the turnaround and successes made by the department during her tenure would be sustained.
"If a sensible minister comes and continues to work with the team to change for the better, it should be sustained. Unless someone comes and wants to start over again, then it will be a mess," she told the media.
The team she leaves behind would be able to take guidance from her successor and also inform the new minister about the department's programmes, the minister added.
Addressing her officials for probably the last time as their minister, she told them although she spent the shortest of her time with government at the department of Home Affairs, it was the one closest to her heart.
This was because Home Affairs had serious implications for every single citizen and if the department didn't perform, it affected the lives of everyone.
She praised her staff who had worked together with her to transform what was once known as "Horror Affairs" to Home Affairs.
"I love you... and now I know you all love me too. I'm happy that I'm going to leave the department on a good footing," she said.
Dlamini Zuma told her staff that the accolades showered on her were actually theirs, as they were the ones who did the work.
"We are not your employers... it is the citizens of this country...That is what I want to leave with you," the minister said.
Officials should be concerned when the country's citizens were worried about the service they received from Home Affairs, she reminded them.
While the department had done well, there was still room for improvement.
"We must not get used to bad services for our people because it means the national psyche has gotten used to mediocrity...If Home Affairs loses, it means someone's life is in misery... we are visiting grief on our people instead of making it better," she said.
Dlamini Zuma also urged her staff to give the new minister their full support, as they had done with her.
Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan praised the minister's leadership qualities.
Chohan said the phrase that best described Dlamini Zuma was "leadership through guidance".
The minister was able to empower the department's official at all levels.
"She empowered people at the lowest level to understand that they are part of a machinery and that each of them were a vital component of that machine," the deputy minister added.
The department's Director-General, Mkuseli Apleni, said Home Affairs would work hard to improve on the successes it had already achieved, as a tribute to Dlamini Zuma.
"The only gift we can give to the minister is to make sure the department doesn't fall apart after her departure," he said.
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