Tributes continue to pour in following the death of the Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu. Mthembu died on Thursday, due to COVID-19-related complications.

He was admitted to the hospital last week, following abdominal pains and tested positive for coronavirus. He was 62 years old.

On the 11th of this month, Minister Mthembu took to Twitter and informed South Africa that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

The tweet wrote, “Today I visited the Military Hospital in Tshwane to get medical attention for abdominal pain. After undergoing some tests, I tested positive for COVID-19. Plans are afoot to get all my family members and close associates get tested as well. Up to this far, the tweet is the last that he posted.”

Now, the country hears of the news of his passing.

SABC’s special broadcast on the passing of Minister Jackson Mthembu: 

‘Dedicated and principled political leader’

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has paid tribute to the late Minister. EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu says Mthembu was incorruptible and praised him for his stance and work on land expropriation.

”Minister Mthembu was amongst the very few incorruptible leaders in government. He was one of the most dedicated and principled political leaders. He was not always blown by the wind. He always stuck to principle. We worked with him very well when he was the Chief Whip of the majority party and under his guidance of the ANC parliamentary majority caucus, amongst his legacies is the fact the SA is going to expropriate land without compensation. We say to Minister Mthembu that may your soul rest in perfect peace.”

EFF sends condolences to the family and colleagues of Jackson Mthembu: 

‘Friendly and professional person’

Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) leader Pieter Groenewald says he will remember Mthembu as a friendly and professional person who respected his colleagues regardless of political affiliation.

“There’s one outstanding feature of Mr. Jackson Mthembu is that it doesn’t matter whether you have different political views, he always treated me and my colleagues with friendliness and respect. Of course, I also want to express my sympathy towards the ANC as a political organisation. They’ve lost a stalwart and a very hard worker in the ANC.”

FF Plus pays tribute to Jackson Mthembu: 

‘Great shock’

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen says the news came as a great shock.

”I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of ANC stalwart and my former parliamentary colleague, adversary, and friend, Jackson Mthembu. The news of his death this afternoon comes as a great shock, and I can only imagine the devastating impact this must have on those who were close to him. On behalf of the DA, I would like to extend our sincere condolences to his family, his friends, and his party.”

Steenhuisen says Mthembu was able to help parties  find compromises in parliament on key issues:

‘Sad day for South Africa’

Congress of the People Spokesperson Dennis Bloem says Mthembu died fighting and serving the country. “It is a very sad day not only to his family but to the entire country. Jackson Mthembu died with his boots on. This man was there for the people of this country. We are very saddened.”

Bloem says he is shocked by the death: 

Mvelase

Minister Mthembu was pivotal in the fight against apartheid. He helped set up the structures of the ANC after its unbanning in 1990.

Mvelase, as he was affectionately known, 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.

And in 2019 President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed him as a minister in his cabinet. Mthembu has been described as a revolutionary cadre who understood the importance of self-criticism and is always willing to admit if he made mistakes and self-correct.

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor has expressed her devastation at his passing. Pandor hailed Mthembu for his immense contribution to the ruling party and South Africa.

“To be honest I am totally devastated. I just cannot believe that comrade Jackson is gone. He gave his working life, his youth, his commitment to our country, to the struggle for freedom from a schoolboy right through to his adulthood and even up to today. His presence in the ANC was so tremendous.”

On a political front, Jackson 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. Deputy Secretary-General, Jessie Duarte says his death leaves big shoes to fill.

“The space that he took will not be able to be filled very easily. We will always love him and we’re going to miss him dearly. And we hope that as we go on the next coming days we will find a way to heal ourselves, but to understand that the real issue here is to mind the period that we are in and COVID-19 is not playing with anybody.”

Funeral arrangements for the late Jackson Mthembu are yet to be finalised.