Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu died at the age of 62 of Covid-19-related complications. Picture: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS
Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu died at the age of 62 of Covid-19-related complications. Picture: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

ANC KZN member in hot water over alleged comment on Jackson Mthembu

By Siviwe Feketha Time of article published Jan 25, 2021

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Johannesburg - The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal is set to meet on Monday following comments by a senior leader over the death of Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu.

The party's provincial spokesperson, Nhlakanipho Ntombela, told Independent Media on Sunday that the provincial executive committee (PEC) would discuss a request for the suspension of Khabo Nene, a member of the party's Mzala Nxumalo regional executive committee, who was allegedly caught in a voice note celebrating Mthembu’s death.

The request was made by the Pongola and Vryheid regional committees.

In the voice note which was circulated on social media, a person who is thought to be Nene could be heard complaining about Mthembu and stating that they are angry, hurt and are bleeding because of "people like Jackson who have been flaunting on the TV speaking as if they won’t die".

Ntombela said: “The PEC will deliberate on that matter and make recommendations to the provincial disciplinary commission to discipline that member."

Meanwhile, Mthembu was hailed on Sunday for his ability to merge both humility and ability to openly oppose wrongdoing within the ANC and the government as he was laid to rest in his hometown of eMalahleni in Mpumalanga.

Mthembu, a veteran communicator and former parliamentary chief whip of the governing party, died on Thursday at the age of 62 of Covid-19-related complications.

He has received wide praise, including from opposition parties and civil society, for his humbleness and open opposition to wrongdoing, including corruption.

At his funeral, South Africa’s political heavyweights braved the rainy weather as they paid their last respects to Mthembu.

Delivering the eulogy, President Cyril Ramaphosa described Mthembu as an honest man who had never shied away from speaking up for what he believed to be right, as well as problems plaguing the ANC.

“Mthembu was a kind and gentle soul, but when it came to corruption, self-serving leadership, brazen abuse of power, you would see another side of him. He was never deceived by the false smiles and empty promises of those who sought to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor. He called them out and did not care if they were more powerful than he was,” he said.

Until his death, Mthembu had been the public face and voice of the Cabinet in the fight against Covid-19 and chaired Cabinet briefings on measures taken by the government to contain its spread.

Ramaphosa said he had been consumed by grief and sorrow over the death of Mthembu, whom he described as his good friend and a loyal member of his Cabinet.

He said Mthembu had been a source of strength and reassurance for the country as he diligently “carried our message of compassion and solidarity across the nation” during the pandemic.

“He was at the forefront of our national effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the very pandemic that has now claimed his life,” he said.

National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise said the outpouring of condolences from political parties represented in Parliament after Mthembu’s passing had been unusual.

“They had to do it because Jackson was not just a good leader. He was a good leader because he always led. He was a good and great father because he understood that he himself had weaknesses which he was very proud to announce and say he has overcome,” Modise said.

Within the ANC, Mthembu had been an open critic of former president Jacob Zuma during his second term over corruption allegations and had played a key role in Ramaphosa’s successful 2017 campaign to lead the party.

Mthembu had led a cohort of leaders that ensured that Ramaphosa’s faction secured a huge share of support within the ANC in Mpumalanga under then provincial chairperson and current Deputy President David Mabuza.

Zuma’s ties with the controversial Gupta family saw Mthembu and other ANC leaders who had backed him since 2007 falling out with him and pushing against his faction within the party.

Before his death, Mthembu had been scheduled to appear before the Zondo Commission into state capture, where he was expected to testify on his stint as the ANC’s parliamentary chief whip from 2016 to 2019 and to shed light on the events, discussions and the attitude of the ANC caucus and study groups on enquiries related to state capture during his tenure.

Commission spokesperson Mbuyiselo Stemela said the inquiry’s chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, was saddened that he had not been able to hear Mthembu’s evidence from his stint as the former head of the ANC caucus.

“The chairperson and the commission regret that, with Mr Mthembu’s passing on, the commission will complete its work without the benefit of the contribution he would have made with his oral evidence,” Stemela said.

Political Bureau

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