President Jacob Zuma said no words could express the loss that he felt at the news.
"On behalf of myself, the Cabinet, government and the people of South Africa, I would like to express our inner most sense of loss and despair at the passing of Minister Padayachie," Zuma said.
"It is sadly a great measure of his dedication and personality that he was to meet his destiny and fate in pursuance of a better Africa and a better world, a goal he dedicated his entire life for it to be realised and achieved."
Padayachie, 62, was found dead in his hotel room in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia by a colleague. He was attending a meeting of the African Peer Review Mechanism.
He had joined the public service and administration ministry in October last year. He was former minister of communication and before that deputy minister of public service and administration.
'Champion of the poor'
The African National Congress said Padayachie was a committed member of the party whose life was defined by his continued activism and his work amongst the poorest communities.
"Even in death he will remain the champion of the poor," spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said.
ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga said he was deeply saddened by the news.
"We are in an absolute state of shock and words cannot begin to describe the deep sadness that has engulfed all of us," he said.
He said Padayachie was without a doubt one of the most talented, experienced and visionary government leaders with unmatched ability to fit in whatever portfolio he was deployed to.
"His commitment to the struggle for South Africa’s liberation saw him dedicate his life to service to the people."
The Democratic Alliance said it was shocked and saddened to hear of the Padayachie's death.
"Minister Padayachie was an able and hard-working member of Cabinet, who was always responsive and available to engage with the DA," national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane said.
"He will be missed in Parliament, in Cabinet, and indeed by all who worked with him or under him in his long and distinguished career in service of South Africa."
Service to the South African people
Congress of the People leader Mosioua Lekota said Padayachie left behind a long track record of service to the South African people.
"We add our voice to those of many others in conveying our sincere condolences to his family, the ANC and all formations in which he served," he said.
The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said Padayachie died as he lived, working hard for his country and continent.
"He devoted his life to serving his people, especially the poorest and most oppressed," Cosatu said in a statement.
Padayachie would be sorely missed.
The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union said Padayachie's death was a major blow to the alliance and the country in general.
"Padayachie's death comes at a time when the nation is crying for hardworking and selfless leaders like him and as public service workers, we were still looking forward to working with him to improve the public service," spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said.
He added Padayachie was a dedicated and disciplined cadre who executed his duties with honesty and excellence.
"The nation will always remember his contribution to the struggle for freedom and his dedication to the transformation of our society. The working class will remember his efforts to better the lives of the poor for years to come," said Pamla.
The SA Communist Party sent its condolences to Padayachie's family and friends.
"Comrade Roy has dedicated almost his entire life to serve our democratic movement and all South Africans with absolute commitment, when asked by the movement to do so in different capacities," the SACP said.
Padayachie's exemplary behaviour and commitment would continue to inspire generations of cadres to serve their people selflessly without any expectations of personal or material rewards.
"The SACP will sorely miss comrade Padayachie’s sharp intellect and capacity for strategic thinking. He had an incisive and analytical mind, and ability to analyse problems and challenges in a holistic, yet principled manner."
Radhakrishna Lutchmana "Roy" Padayachie was born on May 1, 1950 and joined the ANC in 1972.
He was a microbiologist at Reckitt and Colman from 1976 to 1979, he also worked as research chemist at Shell Chemical from 1979 to 1980, while working underground as an ANC operative.
He was a trustee of the Transitional National Development Trust serving on its audit and finance committees and its policy advisory group for the establishment of the National Development Agency.
He served as executive member of the Natal Indian Congress and executive committee member of the United Democratic Front in KwaZulu-Natal.
He was also a member of ANC KwaZulu-Natal negotiating team at Congress for a Democratic South Africa.
A business consultant, he strove to champion the small, medium and micro enterprises until he was appointed deputy minister of communications in April 2004 and deputy minister of public service and administration in 2010.
"We have lost a worker, an academic, a cadre and a soldier for a better South Africa, may his family be consoled by the work he has done for the country and its people," said Zuma.