Political parties in KZN mourn Ricardo Mthembu's death
Mthembu died from complications linked to Covid-19.
The virus also claimed the life of Langeberg mayor Hendrik Jansen, 65, who died in hospital on Tuesday while being treated for Covid-19-related pneumonia. Langeberg municipality is within the Cape Winelands District municipality.
Yesterday, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde announced that he had tested positive for Covid-19.
His diagnosis comes after North West Premier Job Mokgoro and Public Works MEC Oageng Molapisi announced on Tuesday that they had tested positive.
North West Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs MEC Gordon Kegakilwe died from Covid-19-related illness on Monday.
Mthembu, 50, lost his battle against Covid-19 yesterday morning, having spent several days in the intensive care unit of a Ballito hospital, where he had been admitted last week.
He had previously served as mayor of KwaDukuza municipality for eight years, and as chairperson of the ANC’s KwaDukuza region (now General Gizenga Mpanza) for three terms before being elected into the ANC’s provincial executive committee in KwaZulu-Natal in July 2018.
Following the May 2019 general elections, Mthembu was deployed to the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, and in August 2019 became the ANC’s provincial spokesperson, replacing Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, who became Health MEC.
Political parties in the province, including the ANC, opposition IFP, DA and the EFF, all paid their respects to Mthembu. ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli said Mthembu, as provincial spokesperson, had been a great comrade and wonderful companion in the struggle to build a national democratic society.
“We would like to convey our deepest and sincere condolences to his wife, his children, his mother and all close relatives for such a painful loss of a brother, a husband, a father and a son,” said Ntuli.
Premier Sihle Zikalala said that Mthembu’s death had robbed the province of a comrade, a brother, a confidante and cadre who had a sharp brain, a deep sense of humility and extraordinary leadership qualities.
“Mthembu was a dedicated, committed, and tried and tested leader of the people of KwaZulu-Natal. He always worked hard to better the positions of those he served. As a former mayor, he oversaw the exponential growth of the KwaDukuza municipality and Ilembe district into an economic powerhouse, and one of the fastest-growing districts in the province,” said Zikalala.
DA provincial leader in KZN Zwakele Mncwango described Mthembu as “a man who understood democracy” and said despite them being in opposing camps, he had found that in their debates Mthembu was always open to discussing tough issues.
IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa said that Mthembu had been one of the members of the legislature who had always made progressive contributions, and that he would be remembered for his friendly personality.
EFF provincial chairperson Vusi Khoza, said: “We convey our heartfelt condolences to the Mthembu family, the Mvelase clan and the ANC KZN on the untimely death of comrade Ricardo Mthembu. May his soul rest in peace.”