Mkhize had boundless energy and a cheerful spirit, even when she was not well - Ramaphosa

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President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a eulogy at the special funeral of Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Hlengiwe Mkhize. (Photo: Twitter, PresdencyZA)
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered a eulogy at the special funeral of Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Hlengiwe Mkhize. (Photo: Twitter, PresdencyZA)
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa paid tribute to Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Hlengiwe Mkhize, and hailed her as an exemplary civil servant.
  • He said Mkhize's expertise through the years showed her versatility and how she quickly adapted wherever she was assigned.
  • Ramaphosa said her death was a blow to government and society.

Deputy Minister in the Presidency Hlengiwe Mkhize was a great and humble civil servant who had earned people's respect, President Cyril Ramaphosa said as he delivered the eulogy at her official funeral on Saturday.

Ramaphosa said Mkhize's death was a blow to government and her colleagues.

"She was a fine public servant who served the country with great diligence. This is a blow to our government, to our team in the presidency, to the ministry itself and particularly to her colleague Minister Nkoana-Mashabane and to also our country, it's a blow as a whole. 

"Her passing was so sudden and the news came as a shock to us all. I convey my deepest condolences and sympathies to my brother Pat and their children Londiwe, Zindzi, Fezile, and Sizwe and grandson Lwazi, as well as her two brothers."

Mkhize, who was also a member of the ANC's National Executive Committee, had broad experience through portfolios she held in government, as an academic and a former ambassador, he said.

"It is testimony to Professor Mkhize's versatility, her adaptability and above all to the depth of her expertise. We knew that whatever portfolio she was assigned to, she would throw herself fully into it, and take it upon herself to become fully acquainted with the sector and its issues," he said.

READ | 'You fought with dignity and grace, ma' - Hlengiwe Mkhize's daughter pays tribute to her mom

"She has left a void in the ANC, more so at this crucial time when we are preparing for local government elections. During this time, we were counting on seasoned leaders like her to rally people to participate in the elections in November. 

"No doubt she would be out with us in our communities, her mask on, bag firmly in hand and in a pair of sensible flat shoes for door-to-door. She had boundless energy and a cheerful spirit, even when she was not well."

Her training as a clinical psychologist gave her a deep understanding of people's needs, especially those of children, of vulnerable women of those with special needs, he said.

"DM Mkhize served as a commissioner on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and played a formative role in the Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee, and in the returning and settlement of political exiles project. Being a TRC commissioner gave her first-hand insight into the effects of apartheid on the collective psyche of our nation, and on appropriate interventions needed to heal these deep wounds."

We will remember her for her humanism. She believed, as should we all, that the wrong turns people make in life do not make them undeserving of a second chance.

In her work in the Presidency, she was an advocate for children's rights and worked with rights organisations to tackle various issues. She strived for gender inclusion in the digital sphere and opened various centres in poor areas to enable women to access technology and take part in the digital economy.

Mkhize loved her country and was a compassionate leader, Ramaphosa added.

ALSO READ | Deputy Minister in the Presidency Hlengiwe Mkhize has died

"She was a peace-maker and a bridge-builder. She was an influential leader, but she was humble. She was respectful of our people, and, in turn, earned their respect. She was an honest leader. To the Mkhize and Ngobese families at large, we are sorry for your loss. She was one of a kind. We will miss her dearly."

Mkhize died last week. She was 69. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in 2017.

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