South Africa

Tributes continue to pour in for late minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu

Many organistations continue to pay tribute to the late minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu.

Many organistations continue to pay tribute to the late minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu.
Image: GCIS

Tributes continue to pour in from all facets of society for the late minister in the presidency, Jackson Mthembu, who succumbed to Covid-19 related complications on Thursday at the age of 62.

The SA National Aids Council Civil Society Forum (Sanac CSF) has remembered him as a gutsy, committed leader in the fight for social justice and inclusion.

“Minister Jackson Mthembu was an exemplary leader, an activist at heart and a lifelong champion of the people’s struggles for a just and equal society. His passing must not deter us all, in continuing the fight,” it said.

According to Sanac CSF, Mthembu was at the forefront of championing the fight for rights, amplifying the voices of civil society constituencies fighting for access to treatment and policy change. He championed the response to HIV and TB as an uncompromising struggle for human rights and international solidarity.

“We mourn and celebrate the extraordinary life of a remarkable man who devoted his life to fighting for freedom, equality and protection of human rights. He was a champion of transformation particularly in development, politics and health agenda — known throughout the HIV, TB and Sustainable Development Goal movement not just for his inspirational eloquence, but his human warmth. His passing is a loss for the people of SA and the world,” said Steve Letsike, chairperson of CSF and co-chair of Sanac.

Letsike said Mthembu was a great voice and argued in a way that left no one indifferent.

“He touched the lives of those who were fortunate enough to know him, worked with and the lives of those who benefited from his tireless work to defend the health and human rights of people living with HIV or at risk from the disease,” he said.

Activist organisation Sonke Gender Justice also paid tribute to Mthembu and said they will remember him for his passion, commitment and sense of humour. His uprightness and never being shy to take a stand on difficult matters, including speaking boldly against corruption, will also remain in the memories of many, the organisation said.

He was readily available to give audience or assistance to any ordinary man or woman on the street.

“I learnt with shock of the sudden passing on of minister Mthembu, a dedicated leader to the struggle for justice and transformation. He was a person of integrity who was always willing to reach out to civil society to seek genuine and meaningful co-operation on development matters,” said Sonke’s co-executive director Bafana Khumalo.

“I recall in 2019 when he was deployed as the head of a delegation to ICPD25 [the International Conference on Population and Development] in Nairobi. He was committed to ensuring that SA’s position and commitments on the ICPD will not be compromised. He lived up to that commitment, even when some close ally countries took opposing views that sought to undermine Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) commitments. We had great respect for him.” 

Azapo in his home province of Mpumalanga described him as a sincere and selfless servant of the people, adding that the people of that province are poorer without him.

“As a freedom fighter and later a public servant, comrade Mthembu carried himself with humility and ubuntu — a rare quality in many of his peers especially in post-apartheid SA. He was readily available to give audience or assistance to any ordinary man or woman on the street. A true leader, a loving and respectful political activist,” the organisation said in a statement.


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