Jackson Mthembu, Mr


Mr Jackson Mthembu is Minister in The Presidency since May 2019.

Mr Jackson Mphikwa Mthembu has always been an anti-apartheid activist who was part of the liberation struggle.

He was born in the then Witbank (now Emalahleni), Mpumalanga in 1958. He cut his political teeth in student politics in the 1970s and was a student leader at Elukhanyisweni Secondary School during the 1976 student uprisings. He continued with activism as a student at the historic University of Fort Hare, resulting in his expulsion in 1980.

He contributed immensely to the birth of the Metal and Allied Workers Union, the predecessor of the National Union of Metal Workers. He became a senior shop steward at Highveld Steel Corporation, where he worked as a training officer and was later promoted to be one of the first few black steel production foremen in the industry.

Mr Mthembu was a leading member of the eMalahleni Civic Association. He led the local branches of the National Education Crisis and the Detainees Parents’ Support Committee, both affiliates of the United Democratic Front (UDF).

During the state of emergency in the 1980s, he was subjected to constant harassment and persecution by the security forces of the apartheid regime, resulting in several months of detention without trial, mostly in solitary confinement. Acts of persecution by the agents of the apartheid regime included petrol bombing of his house in Emalahleni and being subjected to various forms of torture at police stations.

He was charged with sabotage, treason and terrorism between 1986 and 1988, and tried together with 30 other activists in a trial that came to be known as the Bethal Terrorism Trial. After his acquittal, the apartheid security police continued to harass and intimidate him, which led him to relocate from Emalahleni and find refuge in Soweto and Alexandra in Gauteng as an “internal exile”, seriously disrupting his family life.

Mr Mthembu was elected as the Deputy Regional Secretary of the UDF in the then Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging region (now Gauteng) under the leadership of the late Struggle icon Mama Albertina Sisulu.

He was actively involved in the South West African People's Organisation solidarity campaign, which comprised various civic groups, including the religious community, business and taxi associations, under the banner of the UDF.

After the unbanning of political parties in 1990, he was entrusted with the responsibility of leading the Emalahleni branch of the African National Congress (ANC).

Between 1990 and 1994 he worked full-time as ANC Spokesperson in Mpumalanga and participated as ANC staff component at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa negotiations.

He has served in several strategic roles, including as a member of the ANC Mpumalanga Provincial Executive Committee.

After the first democratic elections in 1994, he was deployed in the then Senate (now National Council of Provinces), where he contributed to the crafting of South Africa’s democratic Constitution. 

He was later appointed as MEC for Public Works, Roads and Transport in Mpumalanga, serving under the successive premierships of Mr Matthews Phosa and Mr Thabang Makwetla.

He was the national spokesperson of the ANC under President Nelson Mandela from 1995 to 1997, appointed to the same role again from 2009 to 2014. He has been part of the ANC National Executive Committee since 2007.

While based at Luthuli House, one of the structures he chaired was the ANC Caster Semenya Support Committee. The responsibility of this committee was to give practical support to athlete Semenya against the inhumane treatment, abuse and discrimination she was subjected to by the International Association of Athletics Federation.

He served as the Chief Whip of the ANC in the National Assembly from 2016 up to the end of the fifth term of Parliament in 2019.

Source: The Presidency