The community of Kanyamazane in Mbombela, Mpumalanga is struggling to come to terms with the death of the Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu. He had been living in the area before joining Parliament in Cape Town.
Mthembu had served as a member of the Provincial Executive Committee.
A wall of remembrance has been set up at his home where members of the public can offer their messages of condolences and also lay wreaths.
Mthembu died of COVID-19 related complications on Thursday after being admitted to hospital last week.
Many community members say he was a generous man who understood the plight of the poor.
“It’s very shocking to us as the community. We never expected that Jackson can leave us so soon. There are things that I can share with you and things that I cannot share that he has done for me. It has been a tradition that all these years we were celebrating New Year’s here. It is unfortunate that this year we could not because of the pandemic. Nevertheless, we lost a leader, a father, others lost a brother. We lost somebody who was paving a way for a lot of people,” says one of the community members.
SABC’s reporter Natasha Phiri is at the Mthembu home in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga:
Mthembu, as a member of the ANC, played a huge role in different leadership positions from his home province of Mpumalanga to when he was the National Spokesperson of the ANC. He was pivotal in the fight against apartheid. He helped set up the structures of the ANC after its unbanning in 1990.
Mthembu served as an ANC Spokesperson from 1995 to 1997 when Nelson Mandela was at the helm.
He later moved up the ranks, serving as Mpumalanga Transport MEC from 1997 to 1999. Between 2016 and 2019, he served as the party’s Chief Whip in Parliament.
In 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed him as a minister in his cabinet.
Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni reflects on Minister Jackson Mthembu’s career:
Tributes have continued to pour in since the announcement of Minister Mthembu’s death. Fellow politician Minister Fikile Mbalula has described the Mthembu as an honest person.
“Jackson, I dare say, he was a completely honest human being. When President Ramaphosa redeployed me to Luthuli House from Minister of Police, one of the people who stood up like a big brother against that decision was Jackson. I had to calm him down and say but Mvelase the Chief consulted with me, I agreed, and he was almost in tears and said ‘what did you do?’”
Colleague Jessie Duarte shares her memories with Mthembu: