(File image) Roy Padayachie. Photo: Leon Nicholas

Johannesburg - Public Service and Administration Minister Roy Padayachie was a loyal, competent and dedicated servant of the people of South Africa, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Sunday.

“His commitment to our democracy and to bettering the lives of ordinary South Africans, especially from our home province of KwaZulu-Natal, was well known,” Buthelezi said in a statement.

“Mr Padayachie was not only a great man but a hard worker. He will be sorely missed. It was always a pleasure working with him, for he treated other political organisations with the utmost of respect.”

Padayachie, 62, was found dead by a colleague on Friday night in his Addis Ababa hotel room. He had been attending a meeting of the African Peer Review Mechanism.

He joined the public service and administration ministry in October. He was the former minister of communication and before that the deputy minister of public service and administration.

“On behalf of the party I lead, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), and my family, I wish to extend my sincerest and deepest condolences to Mrs Padayachie, their family and the African National Congress (ANC),” Buthelezi said.

Earlier, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize said Padayachie was a leader, a community activist and struggle stalwart.

“He was an exemplary leader who served his people with dedication. He was a trusted community leader who served as a crucial link between various communities and government,” Mkhize said in a statement.

“He is one of the struggle stalwarts that we will continue to celebrate for his personal sacrifice and tremendous contribution towards the struggle for a free, non-racial and non-sexist society.”

Mkhize visited Padayachie's family over the weekend to pay his respects.

He said the only fitting tribute to Padayachie was for the provincial government to continue working hard to bridge the digital divide.

“This government inherited a system which still shows unbelievable imbalances in access to telecommunication services. We are running a risk of opening up a huge gap between information ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.”

Access to telecommunication and broadcasting services was not only for personal development, but was also a tool for economic development, he said.

“He was a hard worker, a strategic thinker, humble and had so much love for the people. He was a trusted comrade with whom we shared many ideas of how to take the struggle forward,” Mkhize said.

On Saturday, the presidency announced that Padayachie would be honoured with a category one official funeral.

“This category of a funeral is reserved for ministers who are still serving in office,” said spokesperson Harold Maloka in a statement.

The ceremony would take place at the Sahara Kingsmead Stadium, in Durban, on Wednesday at 11am, the KwaZulu-Natal ANC said in a statement.

“The ANC is saddened by the passing on of Comrade Padayachie and we would like to convey our condolences to the family and friends,” provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said.

In a statement on Sunday, President Jacob Zuma said Labour Minister Mildred Olifant had been appointed as the acting minister of public service and administration until further notice.

Padayachie's remains arrived back in South Africa on Saturday afternoon. - Sapa