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Jackson Mthembu was the embodiment of the very best amo...

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Jackson Mthembu was the embodiment of the very best among us

Minister Jackson Mthembu at Luthuli House on December 05, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

The passing of comrade Jackson Mthembu – Mvelase – has left the democratic movement numb, speechless and devoid of energy. 

If it was possible, through some magic wand, for the departed to preside over their own funerals, Jackson Mthembu would have been an ideal person, at this sombre occasion, in his own colourful eloquence, to remind us of the importance of ethical behaviour in leadership. That is so because Mthembu was a bastion of hope that shone like a twinkling star in the valley of darkness. He was born to crowd out despair, which is why he joined the struggle against apartheid at an early age and dedicated his entire life to the struggle for justice, at great personal cost. He embodied the foundational core values of the African National Congress with zeal and panache. 

Mvelase was a rare breed of principled comrade who embraced humility and spoke truth to power at the risk of jeopardising his own personal circumstance; he disavowed pomposity for its emptiness. He was a proverbial brother’s keeper; he was my brother, he was my keeper –the most handsome man.

Mthembu charmed his way to the newsrooms and editors’ desks with ease but without fanfare in order to project the message of his party and government, to the glee of all and sundry. He was a communicator par excellence. 

That Jackson Mthembu is today praised and eulogised by competing political parties in the South African political landscape is a cogent testament to his generosity of spirit and will – the will to see a better life for all South Africans irrespective of colour or creed. 

As a gifted communicator, Mvelase was always at hand to will his fellow comrades to be true to the covenant that binds them to the colours of the African National Congress. In a way, Mvelase personified the ANC at its best. 

Much as he worked with and learned a lot from erstwhile ANC communication guru, Saki Macozoma, I learned a lot from him. I am his protege – the Most Handsome Man.

I lost a mentor, a dependable cadre whose loyalty to the ANC is above reproach.

It was you, Mvelase, who in later years when we both became Members of Parliament in 2014, you approached me and said, “Zizi, man as you know the ANC has no spokesperson, I think you should consider going to Luthuli House”.

I was hesitant as we had just been sworn-in as Members of Parliament, but you explained, why me?

I immediately changed my mind and agreed, this conversation made it easy when I was later approached by the Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe that I should resign as MP and join him at Luthuli House as ANC national spokesperson.

I thank you for entrusting me with such a huge responsibility. I thank you for being a mentor, I thank you for your guidance during the most difficult times I relied on you.

Mvelase, we are poorer without you. As you join the galaxy of ancestors, please continue to guide us, to remain committed to the service of the people.

I will miss you mfo, grootman. Lala ngoxolo Qhawe. DM

Zizi Kodwa is Deputy Minister of State Security. Jackson Mthembu, who died of Covid-19 related illness, was laid to rest on Sunday.

 

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