Former Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka.

President Jacob Zuma has extended his condolences to the family of former co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Sicelo Shiceka, 45, who died after a long illness in hospital in the Eastern Cape yesterday.

Former comrades and opposition parties added their voices.

“On behalf of the government and the people of South Africa, we wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to (his) family, relatives and friends. May they be strengthened in this moment of challenge,” Zuma said.

“We will especially miss his energy, as he was a remarkable hard worker, and his impact was greatly felt in the local government turnaround strategy as well as his contribution to the Struggle from the early 1980s,” Zuma said.

The ANC confirmed early yesterday that Shiceka had died in Mthatha General Hospital, where he had been admitted as a result of the illness that led to his taking extended leave from work as a minister from February last year.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said: “The ANC would like to convey to the family and friends our condolences. We want to assure them that their loss is our loss. May his soul rest in peace.”

He said the ANC was in contact with Shiceka’s family and that funeral arrangements would be announced later.

Shiceka was relieved of his cabinet post in October last year after an investigation by the public protector found that he had abused public funds.

Cosatu said Shiceka “committed a grave error” while serving as a minister that led to the labour federation demanding he be sacked.

However, that error did not take away his contribution to the struggle, said Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven.

“He was one of many who understood that workers do not sleep in factories, and worked tirelessly to make them appreciate that before they are workers, they are members of their communities.

Craven said Cosatu was saddened by Shiceka’s “untimely passing” and also sent condolences to his family, friends and comrades in the liberation movement.

The office of Mathole Motshekga, the ANC chief whip in Parliament, said it was deeply shocked at Shiceka’s passing.

“Death has robbed us of a comrade, a tried and tested cadre, a long-standing activist and an experienced public representative,” said spokesman Moloto Mothapo.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the Shiceka family, his friends and comrades,” he said.

The SACP said it had received the news with “shock and sadness”.

“Death has once more robbed the revolutionary forces and our country of a committed and dedicated servant.”

Shiceka had served the movement “with passion, dedication and commitment not easily surpassed. He brought enthusiasm to his various deployments and was a joy to work with,” Mothapo said.

The DA’s national spokesman, Mmusi Maimane, said: “On behalf of the DA, I would like to convey our sincere condolences to the Shiceka family, and to the larger body of his friends and colleagues, who will miss him dearly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this time.

“While we differed with him from time to time, we never underestimated the extent to which he loved South Africa and its people,” Maimane added.

Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said Shiceka’s family and friends should know “we are with them during this trying time”.

Lekota also extended condolences to the ruling party. Shiceka served as a member of its national executive committee. - The Star