News | Opinion
Covid-19 has claimed 40,000 South African lives. Among those unexpected losses it is often someone we know… a family member or friend.
On Thursday, it claimed the life of Minister Jackson Mthembu.
After last week tweeting that he had sought medical attention at 1 Military Hospital in Tshwane after experiencing abdominal pains, he found out he had Covid-19. He was 62.
Tributes poured in for the ANC stalwart.
READ MORE: Jackson Mthembu to be laid to rest in official funeral on Sunday
President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “He was a much-loved and greatly respected colleague and comrade, whose passing
leaves our nation at a loss.”
Ramaphosa appointed him as minister in the presidency in 2019, after he was the chief whip of the ANC between 2014 and 2019.
They may have been on other sides of the political spectrum, but the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) paid a fitting tribute to him, saying: “He understood that his participation in the struggle was for a common good and for the people, not for individual benefits and glory.
“Jackson Mthembu almost always rose above factional politics, and never felt entitled to any leadership responsibility. He was a true servant of the people.
“What distinguished Mthembu from the majority of the unthinking partisan representatives was his ability to listen and concede to logic, even when such did not necessarily coincide with his party’s position.”
ALSO READ: ‘Mthembu died with his boots on, working for this country’ – Duarte
Mthembu played a big role in making sure a sitting president was held accountable for any link to state capture, even if it wasn’t the popular decision among his colleagues.
He was heavily criticised by other ANC members for standing up for what he believed in.
Leader of ActionSA Herman Mashaba probably summed it up best when he said: “We must not allow politics to [let us] forget our humanity. Giants are falling to this disease.”
It’s a warning we should all take heed of.
The words patriot, principled and dedicated keep coming up in descriptions of the minister, with ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte saying: “Comrade Jackson died with his boots on working for the people of this country.”
That’s a beautiful tribute. Hamba kahle Mvelase. Rest in peace.
READ NEXT: Condolences pour in for late minister Jackson Mthembu
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