South Africa

Mthembu a reliable ally who was always at the frontline when needed - Mantashe

JOHANNESBURG - As African National Congress (ANC) leaders come to terms with the passing of one their own, Jackson Mthembu’s colleagues have described him a reliable ally who was always at the frontline when needed.

Mthembu contracted the coronavirus and passed away in hospital on Thursday.

The 62-year-old was serving as a minister in the presidency and a National Executive Committee member of the ANC at the time of his death.

ALSO READ: Obituary: Jackson Mthembu, a deft politician and defender of the Constitution

Mthembu’s death has left his comrades reeling, with several ANC leaders struggling to make sense of how COVID has robbed them of one of their shining stars.

The party’s national chairperson Gwede Mantashe, who had known Mthembu since the 80s, on Thursday said this was a great loss.

“He (was) a reliable ally in any battle that we faced. We lose him in the movement, we lose him in government, Mpumalangawill lose him more, Witbankin particular.”

WATCH: Remembering Jackson Mthembu, moments from the archives

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, who also hails from Mpumalanga, said he would miss working alongside him.

“I think he should be remembered as a freedom fighter who did his job with humility and integrity in government."

The party's Jessie Duarte on Thursday said Mthembu died with his boots on - lauding his love and loyalty to both the country and the party.

“He’s been an excellent minister in the presidency, leading and coordinating the debates and the discussions on COVID-19.”

Duarte said his death was a stark reminder of the dangers posed by the coronavirus.

Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, said that Mthembu was a sensitive man who cared deeply for his children.

"He was a father, he was a parent and I shared with him the difficulty of parenting a child who has some challenges. So, he was a human being and that's the thing about Jackson that I'll always remember."

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