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Tributes pour in for Mac Jack

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Jack died on Wednesday.

The late MEC for the department of Education, Mac Jack. Picture: Danie van der Lith

MESSAGES of condolences poured in yesterday for Northern Cape MEC for Education Mac Jack, who died on Wednesday.

Jack died in Mediclinic Gariep in Kimberley after being admitted to the hospital for Covid-19 a week ago.

Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul indicated that Jack was admitted to hospital last week Sunday after he experienced difficulty breathing.

Saul said Jack was tested for Covid-19 and it was established that he was positive.

The ANC in the Northern Cape said yesterday that the party was devastated by the news.

ANC provincial secretary Deshi Ngangxa described Jack as a dedicated servant to the party.

“A fearless cadre, who was affectionately known as Chair of Chairs, he served the movement with selflessness and dedication. When times were tough and the challenges appeared insurmountable, he would always encourage the leadership to persevere and to be resilient by saying, ‘hou vas’ and ‘indoda ayikhali’,” said Ngangxa.

“The ANC lowers its banner in recognition of the stewardship and leadership that comrade Jack gave to the party for many years. He fought with distinction to change the lives of our people by accelerating services to the masses. We will also remember him for his stance against corruption as he was a fearless fighter. We pay homage to this gallant fighter and will forever treasure the contribution he made in the Struggle. He has given many young ANC comrades guidance and political education.

“His death has robbed the ANC of a truly committed cadre who was always ready to play his part in transforming the Province to make it a better place for our people.”

The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, also paid tribute to Jack, describing him as an educationist who served different alliance structures following the start of his career as a teacher at Isibane Primary School and Lilian Noveve Combined School where he was appointed as a principal.

“The passing of MEC Jack has robbed the department of a seasoned educationist, policy expert and a leader who could build bridges between communities and the department,” said Motshekga.

“The department has lost a vocal and spirited campaigner for the overall improvement of schooling outcomes to ensure that our learners are better prepared for further studies and work opportunities beyond their schooling years.

“The Northern Cape has lost a leader who was seized with desire to guide the provincial Department of Education to respond to the vision of a modern, growing and successful province in line with the provincial vision.”

The chairperson of the select committee on education and technology, sports, arts and culture, Elleck Nchabeleng, said yesterday that Jack’s passing was a huge loss to the education sector, especially during this time when strong leadership was needed the most.

“He was a teacher, a nurturer and his passion for education will not be forgotten. Jack had previously been an educator, a principal and a chief education specialist in the Department of Education,” said Nchabeleng.

The Northern Cape Department of Education said Jack would be remembered for his unwavering commitment towards the improvement of the education system.

“It was always his belief that schools are a mirror and reflection of our communities and therefore he always fostered to strengthen parental involvement in the education of their children. His commitment towards the upliftment of all our people served as his compass throughout his life. He was a true gentleman in his actions and words,” the department stated.

The leader of the DA in the Northern Cape, Andrew Louw, pointed out that Jack’s passing was an indication that the country is not yet out of the woods in terms of the pandemic.

“Jack’s passing is a sombre reminder that, while the pandemic does seem to be on the decline in certain areas of the country, we are not out of the woods yet. Covid-19 remains a very real threat, not least of all in the Northern Cape, where almost every day we learn of new pandemic-related deaths. While we try to live with this pandemic, we must not let our guard down, and continue to do everything in our power as individuals and as organisations to curb transmission and to protect all citizens from its deadly claws, most especially the elderly and all people living with comorbidities,” said Louw.

The Premier of the North West, Job Mokgoro, also sent tributes, stating that his province was sharing in the pain of the Northern Cape.

“Their loss inevitably is our loss due to the deep-rooted historical ties between our two provinces. We therefore would like to take this time to comfort Premier Zamani Saul, the late MEC Jack’s family and Exco colleagues, the governing African National Congress and the people of the Northern Cape during this difficult period,” said Mokgoro.