ANC leaders have lauded the late minister in the presidency, Jackson Mthembu, as exemplary, humble and an ideal ANC member.
Businesswoman Daphne Mashile-Nkosi was among the speakers who called on more ANC leaders to emulate Mthembu. Mashile-Nkosi spoke of Mthembu’s warmth and humility, saying that his wife Thembi continued to work at a local clinic was further evidence of the couple’s humility.
She was speaking at Mthembu’s virtual memorial service organised by the ANC.
Mashile-Nkosi spoke of a picture of Mthembu taken with Thembi in a nurse’s uniform that has been doing the rounds on social media.
“Many young people expressed disbelief and deep respect for the fact that a wife of a minister should remain a nurse at a local clinic while her husband was a minister in the engine room of power.
“Some of them have gone as far as to suggest that this is unthinkable in the ANC,” said Mashile-Nkosi.
She indicated activists of her generation understand the indictment of these observations on the ANC as a whole. “It tells us a lot about the wrongs of our ways which are contrary to the expectations of the masses of our people.”
Mashile-Nkosi said as the ANC tries to renew itself, it should be looking for members and leaders in Mthembu’s hue and mindset.
She added he ANC and the country were fortune in that there were still activists of this mode. These had been demobilised, ostracised and sidelined by a few self-serving people who continued to soil the image of the ANC and conspire against the progress of the country as a whole.
“We need leaders who can be respected and believed because there is no deficit between what they say and what they do.”
Mashile-Nkosi said this was more so during the Covid-19 pandemic which she said was the most challenging period since the turn of the 21st century.
ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile described Mthembu’s life as exemplary and worthy of emulation.
“Indeed, we in the ANC take pride in the fact that we can count patriots of the calibre of Comrade Jackson Mthembu as part of our movement. Such patriots give us the assurance that we stand on the shoulders of morally upright men and women of courage and principle; that ours is a just and noble cause; and that our movement – the ANC – is without doubt a glorious movement,” noted Mashatile.
Mashatile, who worked with Mthembu for more than 40 years, described him as a kind, humble and gracious leader who always put others before himself.
He said they would remember him as a lifelong foot soldier for the freedom of the people of SA who was passionate for the cause of building a better life for all and that he was highly competent.
Mthembu had also showed great courage as he never hesitated to speak up for what he believed in.
“He always stood on the side of truth. He spoke and acted honestly and truthfully. He was reliable. He was dependable. He was hard working.
“To us he will remain a national hero, a patriot and one of the foremost servant leaders of the people of SA. He leaves behind a proud, towering legacy,” the treasurer-general added.
The two men had worked closely since the days of the United Democratic Front (UDF), when Mthembu was assistant regional secretary in the then southern Transvaal and Mashatile was the regional secretary of the UDF southern Transvaal under the leadership of Mama Albertina Sisulu who was their chairperson.
Mashatile said UDF work allowed Mthembu to participate in local structures, something he was passionate about. He was focused on building core organisations of the UDF.
Mashatile called on ANC members to redouble their efforts to build a capable, developmental state able to respond effectively to the daily struggles of South African people.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was the first to pay homage to Mthembu, whom he called “a dear friend”.
He said the news of his death was met with shock and sorrow from ANC officials.
“As for me, I have lost a dear friend and it is a loss that I feel most keenly. For those who knew him and relied on him, for those who were led by him, learnt from him, for those who loved him, it is unbearable that we will never see Jackson Mthembu again.
“I was sorrowful and heartbroken when I received the news of Jackson Mthembu’s passing from the minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize and the doctors in charge of treating him on Thursday. And with a heavy heart, I immediately called the officials of the ANC,” said Ramaphosa.
Mthembu confirmed earlier this month that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. He was buried on Sunday in his hometown in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga. –TimesLIVE