Jackson Mthembu: A life lived to serve

The late Minister Jackson Mthembu: Source SA Parliament

Article by: Tebogo Lesoro (Editor)

A cheerful, friendly yet firm in his principles Mvelase as he was known in the political arena. Jackson Mthembu was born in June 5th,1958 in Witbank. He grew up in Kromkrans, a reserve for Black people between Hendrina and Carolina in the then Transvaal. During the 1976 Soweto uprising, Mthembu was a student leader at Elukhanyisweni Secondary School in Witbank. On many occasions during school he was kicked out for not being able to afford school fees, uniforms, books.

He went to the University of Fort Hare but was later expelled, and started working at Highveld Steel as a training officer from 1980 to 1984, and as production foreman from 1986-1988. He was a senior steward at the Met­al and Allied Workers Union from 1984 to 1986 and chair of the Witbank Educa­tion Crisis Committee from 1980 to 1986.

During the 1980s, the states of emergency saw him in and out of prison, Mthembu was charged with trea­son and acquitted between 1986 and 1988. He led the Swapo support group in 300 taxis to the first democratic elections in 1988 in Namibia.

From 1990 to 1994 Mthembu was the ANC spokesman in the Eastern Transvaal then now Mpumalanga province and from 1995 to 1997 the ANC national spokesman. Prior to his appointment as ANC national spokesman, he was speaker of the Mpumalanga Legislature from May 2006.

Mvelase as he was popularly known served as an MEC of public roads and transport from 1997 to 1999 in Mpumalanga. He further chaired the portfolio committees on local government, educa­tion, sport, recreation and arts and culture amongst other things.

Jackson Mthembu was appointed as a minister in the Presidency by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Mthembu served as the Chief Whip of the ANC in the National Assembly before he took up the ministerial role.

Mthembu was married to Thembi Mthembu, He was blessed with two daughters and four sons. Jackson Mthembu was elected to National Assembly of South Africa in 1999 where he served till his death due to Covid-19 related complications in 2021.

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