The ANC had learnt with sadness of Mafela's death, ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said in a statement on Sunday.
Mafela, 75, had been well-known for his lead character "Sdumo" in the sitcom "Sgudi'Snaysi". An actor, songwriter, film director, and producer, Mafela had been in the entertainment industry for years and had continued to excel without showing any signs of slowing down, he said.
"Joe Mafela was an international acclaimed songwriter. His title track ‘Shebeleza' was used as a theme song for the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations in which South Africa were crowned champions. He has been a pioneer and veteran in the entertainment industry, having received numerous awards including, but not limited to, the best actor in comedy at the South African film and television awards.
"As we mourn his passing, the African National Congress sends its sincere condolences to the Mafela family. We also extend our heartfelt sympathies to his colleagues in the industry and all South Africans at large. May his soul rest in peace," Kodwa said.
National Freedom Party leader Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi said she had learnt with shock of Mafela's death.
"Mafela was a veteran of the craft and the greatest comedian ever produced. I grew up watching him in the early '90s and I never missed a chance to watch him perform on small television," she said.
“He is the one who instilled in me and my family love for acting. But one thing Mafela taught me as I grew up was that no matter how famous you must remain grounded.
"He was such a bubble soul and the ever charismatic character. He lived and dedicated his life to entertaining us and making us laugh when things were tough. “I hope our young actors have learnt something or two from him. On behalf of the National Freedom Party, the country, and the continent, I send my deepest condolences to his family and the entire acting community. We have lost the greatest. May his soul rest in peace,” said KaMagwaza-Msibi.