The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has described the late Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu as the friend and defender of media freedom and freedom of expression.

Mthembu passed on today from COVID-19 complications.

Mthembu served as a spokesperson in Mpumalanga Province for both the ANC and for the provincial executive. He moved on to be the national spokesperson of the governing party.

“Throughout his tenure, he showed tremendous respect for and gave journalists from mainstream media to community media equal opportunities and access to leaders. He did not discriminate between senior and young journalists and ensured that they got the chance to ask questions. He always strove to build bridges and forged the professional spirit between media and politics,” says Sanef in a statement.

Minister Mthembu was working with Sanef in the past few weeks towards fulfilling President Cyril Ramaphosa’s undertaking to initiate dialogue to find solutions for sustainable funding models for the media sector in the country.

He was also organising the first, in over 10 years, lekgotla between the Executive and Sanef. It was also going to be the first under the Ramaphosa Administration.

“Sanef regards his death also as a great loss of a voice of reason and an ally of the freedom of expression inside the governing party. He stood up and defended media freedom. He had frank and honest qualities in dealing with the media that are rare among politicians. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time of great loss. He will leave a great void in the presidency.”

Sanef has expressed its sincere condolences to the Mthembu family, his friends, and the political fraternity. The organisation has also extended condolences to all those who have lost loved ones to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tributes pour in for Minister Jackson Mthembu: 

 

The governing party says it’s lost a principled leader who was loved by many. Political Analyst, Professor Somadoda Fikeni reflects on Minister Jackson Mthembu’s political career: