Mthembu’s ethical leadership, commitment to public work hailed
Johannesburg - Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, who died last week, has been remembered for his ethical leadership and commitment to public work.
Mthembu was honoured on Monday during a government-hosted virtual memorial service attended by various ministers. He died on Thursday from Covid-19 related complications and his funeral was on Sunday at his home in eMalahleni.
His death remains a shock to many and this was evident in the speeches from ministers and government colleagues.
International Relations and Co-operations Minister Naledi Pandor said Mthembu had lived his life fully.
Pandor said the minister had supported the poor while raising his own family and while he also kept strong relationships. Mthembu was committed to his job as minister, spokesperson and chief whip of the ANC in Parliament, Pandor said.
"His big spirit will be missed but not forgotten. You achieved much more than what the almighty had planned," Pandor said.
ANC MP Mondli Gungubele also spoke to Mthembu's work ethic as a minister and an MP. Gungubele said that even though many expected that Mthembu would have attempted to rule from the grave when his term as ANC chief whip ended, he did not do so.
Gungubele said Mthembu respected the position of Parliament and availed himself to be held accountable when he served as minister in the presidency.
"He respected the right of other parties to respect their views and made sure Parliament is a chamber where views were respected. Mthembu never ruled from the grave and became an accountable minister to Parliament. He fought corruption and was committed to good governance. He belonged to the institutions he belonged to," Gungubele said.
Mthembu's role as the leader of government communication during the Covid-19 pandemic also took centre stage at the memorial.
Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke said Mthembu died fighting the war against Covid-19.
"He died fighting the war against Covid-19. He is like a soldier who passed and has fallen during the war. He gives us more courage to defeat this virus. Let us use his memory to make sure we save as many lives as possible," Maluleke said.
Similar messages were also shared by Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. She said all must be done to save lives during the pandemic.
Deputy President David Mabuza, who gave the eulogy, said Mthembu's death was a reminder of the viciousness of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mabuza spoke to how Mthembu had overcome pain when he lost his daughter and his mother. He said that despite that the minister inspired hope in others.
The deputy president said that for Mthembu, ethical leadership was paramount.
"He was an example of ethical leadership, an example of social justice. For him, the public service leadership role meant we should not stray in changing the lives of the poor. He stood for the truth," Mabuza said.