Cape Town - 100813 - National Assembly at Parliament in Cape Town - Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Johannesburg - The secretary of Parliament, Michael Coetzee would be remembered for his dedication to the struggle for liberation, President Jacob Zuma said on Monday.

“Mr Coetzee epitomised humility, dedication and service to the people in all the tasks he had been given as an activist and also as a professional,” Zuma said in a statement.

“He was diligent to his work as Secretary of Parliament until his last days. He will be dearly remembered for his dedication to the struggle for liberation and also to making South Africa a better place for all.”

Zuma extended his condolences to Coetzee's family.

“May his soul rest in peace,” said Zuma.

Coetzee died on Friday night, following a battle with cancer.

Coetzee was appointed secretary to Parliament in November 2012 after serving for a decade as deputy.

Before that he served several years as secretary to the Gauteng legislature, following his activist track record as member of the ANC, the UDF and other organisations.

Coetzee was previously an organiser for the Chemical Workers Industrial Union, a Cosatu affiliate, and head of the Western Cape Workers College, a labour movement initiative based at the University of the Western Cape.

Parliament’s presiding officers expressed their sadness after Coetzee’s death on Friday night, and extended condolences to his wife Bridgette, son Matthew and mother.

“True to his character, he fought the disease, refusing simply to surrender to its ravages, while continuing to serve Parliament with distinction and fulfilling the many other roles of his life,” the House said.

“He was known for his humility and approachability. He continuously sought to work against corruption in all its manifestations,” said Cosatu national spokesman Patrick Craven.

“Coetzee was deeply pained by the divisions that had taken shape in the movement.”

“Though he had been diagnosed with cancer several years ago and knew that he had only a few years left, he was determined to continue to serve the Struggle and the people to the end.”

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said although Coetzee’s poor health was known for some time, “his resilient and tenacious spirit” had given hope he would get stronger.

“His sad passing came during the week that he was seen still hard at work, leading the institution’s administration in putting final touches to the preparations for the hosting of the first State of the Nation address of this current term of Parliament (this week).”

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen paid tribute to Coetzee’s loyal service to the national legislature, saying: “Parliament has been enriched by his contribution and he will be missed.”

IFP chief whip Narend Singh said Coetzee’s courage in facing his illness would be remembered. “He fought it like a true warrior to the very end,” he noted.

Political Bureau and Sapa