Pietermaritzburg: KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka, together with the family of municipalities under the Harry Gwala district, have expressed their shock and sadness at the untimely passing of the Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu.

In paying homage to Mthembu, Hlomuka has described the late Minister as a gentle giant who had a passion for seeing the material conditions of communities change for the better. No job was too onerous for him in making this transformation happen.

Minister Mthembu was deployed by His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa as the Political Champion for the Harry Gwala district in KZN as part of the newly established District Development Model.

The late Minister handled this position with delicate care and was instrumental in troubleshooting many of the service delivery challenges faced by municipalities under this largely rural district.

In one incident during a visit to St Apollinaris Hospital where network challenges were prevalent, through the intervention by the Minister, the network companies were brought on board through the department of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services which is led by Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams to help solve the network challenges of the hospital.

“We were very distraught to learn of his passing. We never imagined that when we launched the District Development Model at Harry Gwala with the Minister in October, this would be our last moment with him. During the short space of time that he served as the Political Champion of the district, he made a huge impact and always made time to be on the ground with us even as the country faced the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. He was a solutions-driven Minister and always pushed the district to focus on the solutions no matter how big the challenge was,” said Hlomuka who serves as the MEC Champion for the district.

The Mayor of Harry Gwala Cllr Zamo Nxumalo has also described Mthembu as an exemplary humble leader who was approachable and took his role as Political Champion of the district very seriously. “As a district, we join the country in mourning this dedicated leader who was always eager to help,” said Nxumalo.