Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Lala ngoxolo Mvelase Jackson Mthembu

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu has died from Covid-19 complications, the president announced on Thursday afternoon.

In a statement, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Mthembu’s shock passing. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time of loss,” he said. “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, whose passing leaves our nation at a loss.”

Last week, Mthembu announced on his personal Twitter account that, after experiencing abdominal pain, he sought medical attention at the Military hospital in Tshwane. There he tested positive for Covid-19.

He thanked South Africans for wishing him a speedy recovery. “As a people we must overcome Covid-19,” Mthembu tweeted.

Mthembu cut his political teeth in student politics in the 1970s and went to join the trade union movement as a senior shop steward at Highveld Steel Corporation. He was also a member of the eMalahleni Civic Association and led both the local branches of the National Education Crisis and the Detainees Parents’ Support Committee.

Since the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, Mthembu has served in several strategic roles in the party. He has been part of the ANC national executive committee since 2007. 

He was the national spokesperson of the ANC under President Nelson Mandela between 1995 and 1997. Mthembu served as the chief whip of the ANC in parliament between 2016 and 2019. 

After the 2019 national elections, Ramaphosa appointed Mthembu as his minister in the presidency. 

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

R350 relief grant will be paid into bank accounts or...

There are concerns that post office branch closures will make it difficult for beneficiaries to access the grant

South Africa at risk of spillover from international inflation, economists...

Higher international oil prices, for example, could affect local transport costs through second-round effects

More top stories

Cape Town transport stabilised after two weeks of taxi violence

But despite the calm, rival taxi associations have not yet made peace in their turf war

R350 relief grant will be paid into bank accounts or...

There are concerns that post office branch closures will make it difficult for beneficiaries to access the grant

China launches carbon market as it aims to reduce emissions

China’s emissions exceed those of developed countries, in large part because of its population of more than 1.4-billion people

Military not a magic bullet: South Africa needs to do...

More than ever before, decisive leadership is needed from politicians, military leadership and civil society to march the South African National Defence Force in the right direction

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…