We must defeat Covid-19 as a tribute to Jackson Mthembu, says DD
Johannesburg - Deputy President David Mabuza says a fitting tribute to Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu would be to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mabuza was speaking on Monday at a virtual memorial service for Mthembu.
The minister died last week Thursday, following complications related to Covid-19. His official funeral was held on Sunday, at his hometown of eMalahleni.
Mabuza said the country had been robbed of a social justice crusader and an ethical man who moulded consensus.
"As a nation, we have been unjustly robbed of a champion for social justice for the marginalised and destitute. For him, the public service leadership role meant that in everything we do, we must never stray from our relentless pursuit of changing the lives of poor and vulnerable communities for the better," Mabuza said.
He added that Mthembu did his job well in weaving through differences, especially when he served as the ANC chief whip in Parliament.
"His consensus-moulding attributes shone for all to see and learn from, across the political divide. His inclusive and collaborative approach to resolving issues facing the nation defined his core attributes as a leader who played a critical role in shaping our democracy," the deputy president said.
International Relations and Co-operations Minister Naledi Pandor echoed the praises, saying Mthembu lived his life fully.
Pandor said the minister had supported the poor while raising his own family, all while maintaining 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, whether as a minister or as an MP. Gungubele said 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 express 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," 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 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.