JOHANNESBURG – Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu has died from COVID-19 related complications
President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed his passing in a statement released a short while ago.
The president has extended his condolences to the minister’s family and colleagues.
“Minister Mthembu was an exemplary leader, an activist and life-long champion of freedom and democracy. He was a much-loved and greatly respected colleague and comrade, whose passing leaves our nation at a loss.”
Mthembu was a prominent long serving leader in the African National Congress (ANC) – and served both at Parliament and Luthuli House.
One of his closest colleagues and director general at GCIS Phumla Williams spoke to Eyewitness News.
“They say he was okay in the morning and he just took a turn for the worst after 1 pm.”
He was 62 years old.
Jackson Mphikwa Mthembu was born on 5 June 1958 in Witbank, Mpumalanga. He began his political career as a student leader at Elukhanyisweni Secondary School in Witbank during the 1976 students’ uprisings.
After finishing his formal education, he became involved in the trade union sector in the 1980s. It was during this time that he was arrested and charged with sabotage, treason & terrorism between 1986 and 1988, and tried together with 30 other activists from Witbank.
After the unbanning of political parties in 1990, he was entrusted with the responsibility of leading the Witbank branch of the ANC. Between 1990 – 1994, he worked fulltime as ANC spokesman in Mpumalanga and participated as ANC staff component at the CODESA negotiations.
He was the national spokesperson of the ANC under President Nelson Mandela from 1995 – 1997, appointed to the same role again from 2009 – 2014. He served as the Chief Whip of the ANC in the National Assembly from 2016 up to the end of the 5th term of parliament in 2019. After the 2019 national and general elections he was appointed as the Minister in the Presidency.