Jabu Mabuza’s 63-year trajectory is near inimitable — from small enterprises in the 1980s, big business from the 1990s to 2000s, to the public sector from the 2010s. To some, the idiom “Jack of all trades” comes to mind.

To most who knew him, Mabuza was a “man of many hats” who proved the rise possible for a black executive in democratic SA. Former colleagues credit Mabuza’s success to a special mix of brain power, street smarts and integrity...

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