Member for Umbumbulu, KwaZulu Legislative Assembly, Minister of Education and Culture, KwaZulu, Secretary General, Inkatha yeNkululeko yeSizwe, Executive Chairman, Institute for Multi-Party Democracy.
Oscar Dhlomo was born on 28 December 1943 at Putellos, Umbumbulu, about 30 kilometers South East of Durban, the fifth of the 11 children of Flora and Isaac Dhlomo, a transport operator who ran a fleet of buses.He attended primary school and the Sibusiswe Secondary School at Umbumbulu, and then enrolled at Amanzimtoti College, (formerly Adams College) where he matriculated in 1962. At Amanzimtoti, he was a prefect and played first team soccer. In 1963 Dhlomo went to the University College of Zululand, completing his BA in History and Anthropology in 1965. In 1967 he obtained his University Education Diploma. Whilst at university, he served as vice-chairman (1965) and chairman (1966) of the Students' Representative Council. In 1967 Dhlomo began teaching history at Menzi High School, Umlazi. He also worked in adult education, teaching history to local teachers doing part-time study towards their matriculation. He continued with his own studies through the University of South Africa (Unisa) and was awarded his BA Hons in History in 1970.
In 1973 he was promoted to the post of principal at KwaShaka High School, Umlazi. That same year, he completed a BEd with the University of Zululand.In 1974 Dhlomo was appointed lecturer of Didactics at the university where he specialised in teaching history. He completed his MEd in 1975.In 1977 Dhlomo was awarded a British Council Scholarship and the Ernest Oppenheimer University Travelling Fellowship. This enabled him to tour Britain, the United States and African countries where he researched current trends in teacher training in preparation for his DEd which he completed through Unisa in 1980, on the topic of teacher training in KwaZulu. In December 1977 Dhlomo resigned his lecturing post in order to stand for election to the KwaZulu legislative assembly, representing his home district of Umbumbulu. He was elected unopposed in February 1978. He stated that he and other young men had gone into government because they felt that Chief Minister Buthelezi needed support in his stand against accepting 'homeland' independence. In May 1978 Dhlomo was appointed minister of Education and Culture in the KwaZulu government. In June of that year, he became secretary general of Inkatha, succeeding Professor SM Bhengu. Dhlomo was also vice-president of the KwaZulu monuments foundation and leader of the Inkatha strategic think-tank established by Buthelezi. From 1980 he served as chair of the board of directors of the KwaZulu training trust to promote formal and informal technical training.
In 1978 Dhlomo called for a national convention of leaders of all political persuasions in South Africa. He warned that black support for peaceful change could not continue indefinitely, especially if blacks became convinced that such support did not impress the white power structure.As minister of Education and Culture, Dhlomo introduced 'Good Citizenship' or 'Ubuntu - Botho' as a compulsory subject at all schools in KwaZulu. The subject, popularly known as the Inkatha syllabus, deals with the political philosophy of Inkatha and other black liberation movements in South and Southern Africa.In 1987 Dhlomo met with Thabo Mbeki, then ANC director of information, in New York, in an effort to reduce tension between Inkatha and the ANC and thereby help defuse the Natal violence. However, there was no follow-up to the meeting.On 5 December 1985 Dhlomo and Frank Martin, a member of the executive committee of the Natal provincial council announced that, as a result of meetings of a strategic policy group, final agreement had been reached regarding the process of achieving a joint administration for KwaZulu/Natal.
In 1986, Dhlomo served as Inkatha representative at the KwaZulu/Natal Indaba where representatives of 37 organisations met to negotiate proposals for a new provincial government for the region as a whole.The Indaba continued from April to November 1986 and early in 1987 Dhlomo was part of the delegation which presented the proposals to the minister of Constitutional Development and Planning, Chris Heunis.In 1988 Dhlomo replaced Desmond Clarence as chairman of the Indaba, and was re-elected to this position in September 1989. By early 1990 the Indaba had wound down its activities, and ceased to function after the resignation of its executive director.In 1987 Dhlomo became managing director of a company named Mandla-Matla which took over the Ilanga newspaper, the largest vernacular paper in South Africa.
On 1 June 1990 Dhlomo announced his resignation as Inkatha secretary general. He simultaneously resigned from Inkatha, from the KwaZulu cabinet and from the Kwazulu legislative assembly. He indicated that he felt it was time to make way for others so that he could devote more time to his family and other interests.Early in 1991 Dhlomo launched the Institute for Multi-Party Democracy of which he is executive chairman. The institute aims to promote the establishment and maintenance of multi party democracy, political tolerance and national reconciliation in South Africa.Dhlomo is married to Nokukhanya Venetia (born Ntshingila) from Claremont, Natal. His wife, a qualified nursing sister and tutor, presently manages the family business. The couple have three sons and one daughter. Dhlomo died on 29 August 2008. He is survived by his wife Nokukhanya, three sons and a daughter.
• Shelagh Gastro (1992) Who`s Who in south African politics Number 4.p.67.
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