Zuma mourns Manto's death

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pretoria - The Presidency has expressed shock and sadness at the death of former Minister in the Presidency and Health Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

Tshabalala-Msimang died in a Johannesburg hospital on December 16 after a long battle with a liver ailment.

"Our hearts go out to her husband, Mendi Msimang, as well as her children and grandchildren during this hour of difficulty and sadness. They have our love and support as government", said President Jacob Zuma.

Tshabalala-Msimang's service to the country started in 1994 when she was first appointed as Justice and Constitutional Affairs deputy minister and later as health minister.

In late 2008 she appointed in the Presidency in President Kgalema Motlanthe's cabinet, a position she held until the April 2009 elections..

In her health portfolio she played a leading role in the enhancement of government programmes with regards to child and maternal health as well as diabetes and other chronic diseases programmes.

She also promoted massive child immunisation programmes around the country as well as the fight against malaria.

Last year, she was appointed as African Union Goodwill Ambassador and Champion for Africa's Movement to improve Maternal Health and Promote Child Survival and Development in Africa, beyond 2015.

During her tenure as Minister in the Presidency, she addressed the problem of "ukuthwala" in the Eastern Cape which is a practice of forcibly marrying underage girls to older men. This campaign enabled government to raise awareness of the human rights violation element of the custom as well as its illegality.

Zuma said government recognised and acknowledged Tshabalala's sterling contribution to the country and the African National Congress.

Funeral arrangements for the late minister will be announced in due course, the Presidency said.