Michael Mthembu, a brother to the late Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, has described as “tough” the passing of his brother.
Speaking at the Minister’s house in Ackerville in eMalahleni, Mpumalanga, Michael Mthembu said his brother played a big role in unifying the family, especially during difficult times.
“We as the family thought that when my brother was admitted at the hospital that he will come back alive and kicking. But unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way. It’s really tough I don’t want to lie to you. It’s really tough. My brother’s wife, the kids, my uncles, my sister, it’s really hectic. Remember this is one person that was the pillar of this family.”
He has thanked South Africans for their messages of condolences:
Mthembu passed away on Thursday from COVID-19 related complications. Politicians have paid their respects at Mthembu’s home.
The Minister’s passing has left many shocked and gutted. Respects were paid outside his home in eMalahleni in the form of a drive-by.
Many battled to hold back the tears. Director-General of GCIS, Phumla Williams says “I can’t cope, I thought I’d be able to finish speaking but I can’t. I’ll ask my colleagues to come and finish speaking.”
GCIS colleagues visit Mthembu’s family:
Mthembu played a pivotal role in his political home, the ANC. He was the face of the party from 1995 to 1997. He served as ANC Chief whip from 2016 to 2019.
Mthembu led the process of rebuilding party structures in the troubled Moses Mabida region in KwaZulu-Natal. Those in his political home share fond memories of him.
“What we have learned from him is to stand by the principle and to stand by the things that he believes in and it was not possible that you would change his mind if it is not what he believes in. Positions never changed with comrade Jackson, we’ve lost a lot as Emalahleni and as the ANC in Mpumalanga. But the key to everything, we’ve lost a servant of people, a humble servant that was serving at all levels with or without any deployment,” says Mpumalanga acting ANC Secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali.
Mthembu was appointed Minister in the Presidency in 2019. Described as a strong-willed, incorruptible and respected colleague.
Statistician general Risenga Maluleka says “He left a great legacy behind…”
Mthembu was at the forefront of government’s fight against COVID-19 and was responsible for the government’s message in the fight against the virus.
The national flag will be flown at half-mast at every flag station in the country from tomorrow morning until Sunday.
In a statement, the Presidency says Mthembu contributed immensely to the liberation struggle and occupied several strategic and leadership roles in democratic South Africa.
A memorial service will be held at 1 pm on Saturday at the GCIS Auditorium in Hatfield in Pretoria. -Additional reporting by Natasha Phiri.