Johannesburg - The ANC, the government and political parties have expressed shock at the death of Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday led the tributes for Mthembu saying he was a dedicated member of his Cabinet.
The ANC also said Mthembu died with his boots on while other parties said he was the public face of the government’s response to Covid-19.
Mthembu, 62, died on Thursday following Covid-19 related complications.
Ramaphosa said Mthembu led by example.
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“Minister Mthembu was an exemplary leader, an activist and lifelong champion of freedom and democracy. He was a much-loved and greatly respected colleague and comrade, whose passing leaves our nation at a loss,” said Ramaphosa.
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said the party had lost a remarkable member. She said Mthembu was an outstanding organiser for the ANC in Mpumalanga in the 1980s in the fight against apartheid.
“Comrade Jackson, I would say he died with his boots on, working for the people of this country,” said Duarte.
She said Mthembu was the face of the ANC for many years as its spokesperson and recently was the face of the government in the fight against Covid-19.
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina, who succeeded Mthembu in the position, said she was shocked at the death of Mthembu.
Majodina was attending the funeral of ANC MP Nombulelo Hermans in the Northern Cape, who also died of Covid-19, when she received the news.
Majodina said Mthembu was an outstanding leader in Parliament and government.
She said the ANC had lost an incredible leader.
Good Party leader and Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille said she was shocked at the death of Mthembu.
“Shocked and saddened by the news of the passing of Minister Jackson Mthembu. He was a true servant of the people and I was always struck by his incredible empathy for people,” said De Lille.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said he was shocked by the death of Mthembu.
“During the time that we served opposite each other in the National Assembly as chief whips of our respective parties I came to know him well and I saw a side to him that explains why he was such a revered figure in the ANC,” said Steenhuisen.
The IFP also paid its tribute to Mthembu saying he was dedicated to his work in the government.
IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said Mthembu will be remembered for the good work he did.
“Minister Mthembu was a bridge-builder, and an individual with a deep love for our country and for service. He was a humble gentleman and will be remembered for his decisive leadership and candour,” said Hlengwa.
Minister #JacksonMthembu was the perfect gentleman, & a dignified colleague who respected everyone who crossed his path. He was a bridge builder who enjoyed the respect & admiration across the political spectrum. He was always friendly and full of life.— Mkhuleko Hlengwa MP #🇿🇦 #😷 (@MkhulekoHlengwa) January 21, 2021
Rest in peace Mvelase 🇿🇦💔
Business Unity South Africa (Busa) said Mthembu was a humble person who worked hard.
Busa President Sipho Pityana said the late minister was the public face of the fight against Covid-19.
“In the recent period, alongside President Ramaphosa and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, Mthembu became the public face of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, through countless public engagements. How tragic, then, to hear that it was the very same pandemic that took his life,” said Pityana.
Many South Africans turned to social media to share their condolences.
This man made me less anxious during this pandemic. Every time he came on television, he made feel more informed and gave me that "Kuzolunga" feeling. #JacksonMthembu pic.twitter.com/9Llqf8NOLA— YouTubeConsultant (@therightsimz) January 21, 2021
Got home to the sad news of the passing of Minister #JacksonMthembu.
He really took a bull by its horn when it comes to serving our nation. .
May his soul rest in eternal peace.#RIPJacksonMthembu pic.twitter.com/UhwYxkwzAm— Karabo™ (@ikay_mo) January 21, 2021
Rest in peace minister #JacksonMthembu, very humble man, very likeable man. It was an honour meeting you #RIPjacksonmthembu pic.twitter.com/GS7lMk58Fo— Pascal Frank (@pascal_lwambwa) January 21, 2021
A gentle Heart is no more 💔🙏🏽 #JacksonMthembu pic.twitter.com/HAk39FCieS— June_Love (@julia_moey23) January 21, 2021
#JacksonMthembu condolences to the Mthembu family. Rest in peace my friend. You served your country with distinction🕊🕯🕯💔💔 pic.twitter.com/UAHIHfjE9P— Nganeo Nemukula (@Nganeo3) January 21, 2021
Rest In Power Minister in the Presidency Cde Jackson Mthembu, you fought a good fight and you died in the trenches of the fight against COVID pandemic, we saw you on the fore-front from the Onset (Outbreak) till your last breath. We salute you leadership. #Jacksonmthembu pic.twitter.com/lKnUQNeHky— Mulalo Netshifhefhe (@MulaloNetshifh) January 21, 2021
May we all take a leaf from Minister #JacksonMthembu’s life, so that when the hour comes it can be said of us what is being said about him. The media, civil society & politicians across the spectrum speak in unison about a life well lived, a life of service to others. Lala Salama https://t.co/o5ZAu0F1et— Mukelani (@MukelaniSD) January 22, 2021