President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his deep sadness after the passing of struggle stalwart and former Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad.
Pahad passed away at the age of 84. The family said funeral arrangements would be finalised soon.
President Ramaphosa has offered his deep condolences to the family, friends and comrades of the late veteran.
President Ramaphosa said: “We mourn the passing of a veteran of our struggle, 65 years after he took his first revolutionary step of becoming a member of the Transvaal Indian Congress.
“Security crackdowns, banning and exile shaped Essop Pahad’s contribution over decades to our struggle and, as Parliamentary Counsellor to President Thabo Mbeki and Minister in the Presidency, to the early design and impact of our democratic state.
“Essop Pahad was a thinker and strategist who brought his understanding of the human condition, injustice and inequality at the national and international level to bear on our transition to democracy and in introducing a democratic, non-aligned and activist South Africa to the global community.
“He served our nation with pride, principle, pragmatism, and a charm that that lived comfortably alongside a tongue that could lash severely at the right provocation.
“Amid the excessive demands of his public life, Essop Pahad was deeply devoted to his wife, Meg, and was a proud and doting father and grandfather, who is now sorely missed. May his soul rest in peace.”
Pahad served as Minister in the Presidency from 1999 to 2008 and was known as former president Thabo Mbeki’s right-hand man.
From Schweizer-Reneke in the North West, he came from a well-known family of political activists who fought against apartheid.
The apartheid government arrested him in 1962 for organising an illegal strike, and he was later banned from the country.
In exile, Pahad served in the leadership of the ANC and the SACP. Before he was appointed as a minister, he served as a parliamentary advisor to Mbeki.
After leaving the government in 2008, he started a quarterly magazine called The Thinker.
He held a PhD in history from the University of Sussex and a master’s degree from the same university.
Pahad also served on the national executive committee of the ANC from 1994 until 2007.
In 2017, he reportedly said that the heart and soul of the ANC was in disarray.
“What we don’t want is the ANC to die with us. It would die if we do not regenerate the movement,” he said at the time.
Although he was criticised for his dealings with the Gupta family, he was among the ANC veterans who were outspoken against former president Jacob Zuma.