The South African Communist Party (SACP) conveys its heartfelt condolences to the family of Comrade Jackson Mthembu (62), who passed away on Thursday 21 January 2021 from COVID-19 related complications. Comrade Jackson was the Minister in the Presidency in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation.
The SACP also sends its deepest condolences to the African National Congress (ANC) for the great loss encountered. Mthembu was a long-standing member of the ANC National Executive Committee. Our heartfelt condolences also go to the Presidency, and staff in the Presidency, his colleagues, Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers, and our entire liberation movement.
Before his deployment in the government, Comrade Jackson had served the ANC as its Spokesperson. He was dedicated and served the ANC diligently. His service as the ANC Spokesperson started in 1995. Then He served until 1997, under President Nelson Mandela. Mthembu returned to that position in 2009 and served until 2014. During this difficult period, he also convened the Alliance media and communications forum, increasingly asserting leadership from the front in our shared strategy to confront the rise of corporate state capture and the industrial-scale corruption associated with the decay. Thereafter, Comrade Jackson served as an ANC Member of Parliament, and as the Chief Whip of the ANC in the National Assembly from 2016 to 2019.
A product of the South African struggle for liberation, Mthembu was well-known as a hardworking, principled, and incorruptible member of our movement.
Comrade Jackson was directly involved in the 1976 students’ uprising. He was a student leader at Elukhanyisweni Secondary School in Witbank during that time of the struggle against the apartheid regime.
He made his contribution in building the Metal and Allied Workers Union (MAWU) after its formation following the metalworkers strikes that started in Durban in 1973 and spread to other parts of the country. The following decade, in May 1987 MAWU merged with other unions to form the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). This was part of a process to consolidate non-racial workers’ unity and power, guided by the organising theme of one union in one industry adopted by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) founded on 1 December 1985 in Durban.
In memory of our fallen comrade, the SACP reiterates its support for wider trade union unity behind the common interests of the workers in all sectors of the economy. Joint action against retrenchments, in defence of workers’ livelihoods, and other common demands, is essential for workers to advance, step by step, towards greater unity and victory. One key struggle this wider workers’ unity needs to confront is the struggle against the deviant, reformist, and reactionary tendencies of neoliberal austerity agenda and the entire networks of neoliberalism and state capture. The SACP will deepen its work in building momentum and driving the movement in that direction, always, until broader working-class victory.
The weapon of unity, which Comrade Mthembu embraced throughout his revolutionary life in the movement, is most needed at this juncture and must be embraced by the entire Alliance in his memory. This has to include earnestly taking the Alliance reconfiguration process to its logical completion, in the interest of securing all the goals of the Freedom Charter.
The SACP also reiterates its call for universal access to the Covid-19 vaccine, which must be produced and made available as a public good, putting people, the supreme right to life, before profits.
ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY | SACP