It is a bad weekend in South Africa. As the nation mourns the death of the mother of former president, Thabo Mbeki, the serving president, Jacob Zuma, was admitted to hospital on Saturday.
It started with the news that Epainette Mbeki had been admitted to a private hospital in East London in the Eastern Cape during the week where, according to one of her sons, Moeletsi Mbeki, the doctors and staff at the hospital had done well to help improve her condition, which was reported as a chest ailment. It was later reported by the public broadcaster, the SABC, that she had passed on. This was confirmed by the Mbeki family, adding that her condition was mainly respiratory problems.
MaMbeki, as she had been popularly known, was born in February, 1916 in the then Transkei. She was educated at Adams College and Lovedale Teachers College after which she taught at Taylor Street Secondary School. During the course of her career, MaMbeki taught with Govan, the man she later married and the later father of her four children. The two married in 1940 and she moved to Transkei where they set up the family home and a trading store which became the source of family income. The two were blessed with four children; Linda, Thabo, Moeletsi and Jama. Thabo was later to become democratic South Africa’s second President after Nelson Mandela.
Epainette Mbeki’s political activism started as early as the 1930’s when she became the second woman after Josie Palmer to join the Communist Party of South Africa. She became an active member of the movement in Durban. Following the life imprisonment of her husband at the notorious Rivonia Trial, she moved to Ngcingwane following the exiling of her three children, Thabo, Moeletsi and Jama. Here, she continued to work hard towards the upliftment of the community. At the time of her passing on, MaMbeki was still working towards the poor marginalized black people of her community.
It was also reported that the sitting president of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma had been admitted into hospital for tests. The reports indicated that Zuma had been advised on Friday by the ANC to take leave to rest. The presidential speaker, Mac Maharaj said there was no need to panic as the president was not ill but had gone into hospital for tests following indications that he may have been suffering from exhaustion following a gruesome election and the putting in place of a transition cabinet. The presidency also confirmed on their website that Zuma had been sent packing to rest by the top brass of the ANC in anticipation of a cabinet lekgotla next week.