South Africa: Covid-19 Claims Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu

African National Congress Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu in February 2018.

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu has died of Covid-19 related complications on Thursday, the Presidency has announced.

"Minister Mthembu was an exemplary leader, an activist and life-long champion of freedom and democracy. He was a much loved and greatly respected colleague and comrade, shows passing leaves our nation at a loss."

Mthembu (62) had tested positive on 11 January, according to a government statement. After complaining of stomach pains, he was admitted to hospital. His passing on Thursday has come as a shock and surprise.

"Comrade Jackson died with his boots on," said ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte in a hastily called briefing that underscores Mthembu's standing in the governing party.

Mthembu's life and career are intrinsically embedded in the ANC, and also the United Democratic Front (UDF) from his student days in the 1970s.

A former ANC national spokesperson from 2009 until May 2014, when he came to Parliament - first to serve as environmental affairs committee chairperson, and then from early 2016 as ANC chief whip.

Previously, he had served as Mpumalanga legislature chief whip while he served there as MPL, and also as MEC between 1997 and 1999. But Mthembu's activism goes back to his...

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