MINISTER in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu has died as a result of COVID-related complications, President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed on Thursday.
He was 62.
“It is with deep sorrow and shock that we announce that Minister in The Presidency, Jackson Mthembu passed away earlier today (Thursday) from COVID-related complications,” said Ramaphosa.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time of loss. Minister Mthembu was an exemplary leader, an activist and life-long champion of freedom and democracy. He was a much-loved and greatly respected colleague and comrade whose passing leaves our nation at a loss.”
Fighting tears, ANC Chief Whip in Parliament, Pemmy Majodina, said COVID-19 pandemic has robbed the governing party and South Africa of a genuine people’s leader committed to the country’s reconstruction and development.
“This is devastating news to all of us,” said Majodina.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has robbed us a genuine leader of our people. Comrade Jackson Mthembu was an honest person, trustworthy, principled and committed to the reconstruction and development of South Africa. He fought against all forms of corruption.”
The Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen described the late minister as a “towering giant of the South African political landscape”.
“He was great political leader. We had an incredible relationship when he was Chief Whip of the governing party in Parliament. I highly valued his ability to make things happen, including his ability to reach across the aisle and interact with the opposition parties. He will be sorely missed,” said Steenhuisen.
ANC deputy Secretary General, Jessie Duarte, said Mthembu, who has been conducting and coordinating the government’s response to Coronavirus, literally died with his boots on in service of the people of South Africa.
“We have lost a remarkable leader. He was a formidable activist,” said Duarte.
“During his younger days, Comrade Jackson Mthembu was an outstanding organizer in the then Eastern Transvaal. He was the voice and the face of the ANC for many years, and of government in recent years. We have lost an important person in our lives. We will always love him and we will miss him dearly.”
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said Mthembu was among the very few ‘dedicated, humbled and principled leaders of government’.
“Despite his access to power and influence, Cde Mthembu was never caught in scandals of influencing tenders and government contracts to benefit his friends and family. With decisiveness, he always provided logical and sound leadership which often transcended narrow partisan loyalties,” the party said in a statement.
Mthembu, who was a Minister in the Presidency since 2019, served as Chief Whip of the ANC in the National Assembly between 2016 –and 2019.
During the 1976 Soweto uprising, he was a student leader at Elukhanyisweni Secondary School in Witbank, Eastern Transvaal.
He went to the University of Fort Hare but was later expelled and subsequently started working at Highveld Steel as a training officer.
When South Africa was declared to be in a state of emergency in the 1980’s he was in and out of prison.
Mthembu was charged with treason and was acquitted between 1986 and 1988.
He led the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) support group to the first democratic elections in 1988 in Namibia.
Meanwhile, South Africa has recorded 12 710 new coronavirus infections in the last 24-hour cycle, taking the total number to 1 369 426, according to the health ministry.
The country has also recorded 566 new COVID-19 related fatalities on Wednesday.
(SOURCE: INSIDE POLITICS)