Condolences are pouring in for the late Eastern Cape education MEC, Mandla Makupula.Makupula died earlier on Monday - a day before his 57th birthday - following a lengthy illness.The South African Communist Party (SACP) described him as an incorruptible and loyal servant of the people.Spokesperson Alex Mashilo said Makupula, who was known as "principal" because of his Marxism teachings, was elected and served diligently as the party secretary in the former Transkei region."The SACP is deeply saddened by the loss and announces it publicly with great sorrow."The party is expected to announce details of the memorial and funeral services later, after consulting with Makupula's family and the government.Makupula was identified and recruited by the underground machinery of the party while he was a high school pupil.He participated in the establishment of the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) in 1979.In 1999, Makupula was elected to the Eastern Cape provincial legislature and served as the chairperson of the portfolio committee of the Office of the Premier, public works, and education before being appointed education MEC in 2010.Democratic Alliance MPL Edmund van Vuuren said the party was saddened by Makupula's death.Van Vuuren said their thoughts and prayers were with the family.He said he had worked well with the MEC and was a man who was passionate about education."We often consulted and sought out ways that could solve the many systemic issues and challenges his department was facing."He was a man who was willing to listen, and who would put the interests of education first. He tried his utmost best to make a difference but was at times let down by some of his officials," said Van Vuuren.Education and training quality assurer Umalusi also conveyed its condolences.Spokesperson Lucky Ditaunyane said the body would remember Makupula as a very insightful and knowledgeable MEC who was passionate about education in his deployment."He will likewise be remembered for his collegial demeanour, as well as his thoughtful and constructive comments during his stakeholder meetings with Umalusi officials."Umalusi CEO Dr Mafu Rakometsi also extended his condolences to the MEC's family."We mourn with the family of Mr Makupula and wish them strength during this difficult time," said Rakometsi.According to provincial spokesperson Sonwabo Mbananga, Makupula died after 01:00 on Monday.Mbananga could not reveal the cause of death but said Makupula was battling a long illness and his health deteriorated in the past few days.