South Africa Presidency Minister dies from Covid-19
Jackson Mthembu, South African Presidency minister, and a former protester against the rule of the white minority, died on Thursday after being admitted to the abdominal pain hospital and testing positive for COVID-19. He was sixty-two.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement, “It is with deep sorrow and shock that we announce that Minister in The Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, passed away earlier today from COVID-related complications,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement.
“Minister Mthembu was an exemplary leader, an activist and life-long champion of freedom and democracy.”
Born in 1958, from his student days in the 1970s, Mthembu fought apartheid and helped create two metal workers unions when he worked in the steel industry fighting for better conditions for black workers.
In the 1980s, he was often incarcerated by the apartheid government, sometimes in solitary confinement, but when political parties were unbanned in the following decade, in his home town of Witbank, northeast South Africa, he became the chief of the African National Congress.
He served in parliament when South Africa became democratic in 1994, becoming the national ANC spokesperson the following year, a role he also held from 2009 to 2014, until becoming presidential minister in 2019.
Mthembu wrote in his last message on his Twitter account on Jan. 11 that he had “visited a Military hospital in Tshwane to get medical attention for an abdominal pain,” and tested positive for COVID-19 there.
In South Africa, which has been the hardest affected on the continent, the death toll from COVID-19 has almost reached 40,000.
Several leaders in southern Africa have been killed by the pandemic, including Zimbabwe’s foreign minister, Sibusiso Moyo, who died this week. Last week, two former cabinet ministers and two other senior political figures in Malawi died of the disease.