Respected Padayachie mourned after death in Ethiopia

2012-05-05 18:33

The death of Public Service and Administration Minister Roy Padayachie should serve as a health warning to other Cabinet ministers, a government official says.

A diabetic, Padayachie (62) died on Friday evening in his hotel room in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where he was attending a meeting of the African Peer Review Mechanism.

His health had deteriorated in the last few months, those who worked closely with him say.

The minister succumbed to a massive heart attack which left no time for medical intervention, Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration Ayanda Dlodlo told City Press. “The doctor was called in but it was too late.

“It just took a few minutes and he was gone,” Dlodlo said in an interview from Durban, where she rushed yesterday to support Padayachie’s family.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant was acting in Padayachie’s position while he was out of the country.

President Jacob Zuma now had the option of keeping Oliphant in that position or appointing a new, full-time minister to the critical post.

Zuma could also use the vacancy to reshuffle his Cabinet or appoint Dlodlo to the position.

The only precedent for the latter situation was when Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini was appointed to that position after serving as deputy in that ministry.

The effects of his diabetes caused Padayachie to lose concentration in meetings, and his health was gradually deteriorating, officials who worked with him added.

One official who worked closely with Padayachie but refused to be named, said the minister’s death should ring alarm bells for others in Cabinet.

“Many in Cabinet are in the same situation. “Roy was managing his diabetes, but eventually you lose the fight.”

Another official said the minister had “been sick for some time” but did not request sick leave because he felt he was managing the condition.

Dlodlo added that Padayachie was a minister “who walked slowly but worked fast.

“He understood that things needed speed, people can’t wait forever.”

She said the revised ministerial handbook, which he championed, was in the process of being finalised. “It has been discussed in a few Cabinet meetings and there were some changes made. So it is a work in progress.”

Tributes have poured in for the popular and respected former minister of communications.

Congress of South African Trade Unions’ general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told a National Union of Metalworkers conference in Vanderbijlpark, south of Gauteng, yesterday that Padayachie “did not only belong to Cabinet and the ANC, but he was the property of our people as well”.

The conference observed a moment of silence for Padayachie as well as for struggle stalwart Walter Sisulu, who died on May 5 2003 aged 90.

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