- KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala lauded Radebe as one of the province's "greatest sons".
- Radebe is credited for bringing peace between warring ANC and IFP factions in KZN.
- He was also a close ally of former president Jacob Zuma.
Former KwaZulu-Natal Agriculture MEC Meshack Radebe has died.
The ANC's KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli confirmed that Radebe died in hospital on Saturday. "We were informed by the family at about 09:00 that he died in the early hours of the morning."
He said the party was going to visit his family in Pietermaritzburg and further details would be released then.
The death was also confirmed by KwaZulu-Natal provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela, who, in a message, said: "We have lost ubhungane umkhumbi wokumoyizela (someone who makes other people happy) Meshack Radebe is no more RIP Bhungane more details will follow once we interact with the family. He passed away in hospital. Let us keep the family in our prayers."
Ntombela said: "This is indeed a monumental loss for the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal. During his tenure as MEC for Social Development as well as Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, he lived and worked among the people. He remained their tireless servant and was always first to arrive in their hour of need. We have lost a hands-on leader with the ability to get things done."
Radebe, a close ally of former President Jacob Zuma, also served as the deputy speaker in the provincial legislature.
He was one of the politicians who showed support for Zuma during his numerous court appearances.
In passing his condolences, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said: "This has been one of the saddest and most painful weeks in the life of the province, as we mourn the passing of one of the greatest sons of our province. An activist community based leader, during his time as MEC, Dr Radebe earned himself the nickname of 'umkhumbi wokunethezeka' because of his dedication to the delivery of services especially to the poor, and other vulnerable groups."
Zikalala praised Radebe for being a peacemaker.
"Dr Radebe's decorated legacy is that of leading peace initiatives in KwaZulu-Natal.
He distinguished himself in bringing peace between the warring factions of the ANC and IFP in Mpumalanga Township, near Hammarsdale where he also lived.
For this work, he, together with his late IFP counterpart Sipho Mlaba, were recognised by the University of Natal and were both awarded honorary doctorates.
Radebe was honoured locally and internationally for his work both in peacemaking initiatives and also for his lifetime of service to the people of KwaZulu-Natal and by extension the rest of the country.
"We lower our hats to the undying spirit of Dr Meshack Radebe for his role in the struggle for our liberation and for serving in the frontline against poverty, inequality and unemployment and for his selfless commitment to the creation of a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and equal South Africa," Zikalala said.
IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said he was happy he got to spend time with Radebe a few months before his death. He said:
Buthelezi said he was grateful he got to pay tribute to Radebe at his 70th birthday in 2019. "I expressed my gratitude for all that he has done to further reconciliation talks between the IFP and the ANC."