The unexpected death of Joburg Mayor Jolidee Matongo is likely to trigger more divisions within the ANC in Gauteng over who will replace him.
Matongo died in a car crash on Saturday on his way home after his election campaign in Soweto with President Cyril Ramaphosa and Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
Two other people died in the accident.
Matongo’s death comes two months after he took over as Joburg mayor from Geoff Makhubo, who died in July due to a Covid-19 complication.
However, his election was not without hurdles as his ANC internal foes fanned the xenophobic flames, saying Matongo could not take the powerful mayoral seat as he was originally from Zimbabwe.
His father is from Zimbabwe, and his mother is from South Africa.
Many people, including EFF leader Julius Malema, rushed to his defence.
He stood firm and ultimately became the mayor of Joburg after 269 councillors gave him the nod.
Before his death on Saturday, Matongo, 46, went on a charm offensive with Ramaphosa in Soweto, urging people to vote for the ANC in the 1 November local government elections.
At one point, Ramaphosa asked Matongo to greet the crowd.
This was the last time he would be seen alive after his BMW X5 crashed. His bodyguards survived.
Matongo previously served as Joburg’s finance MMC.
Tributes are still streaming in for Matongo.
President Ramaphosa said: “Nothing could prepare any of us for this sudden loss, which has deprived our nation’s economic centre of its second Executive Mayor in two months.”
He added: “The time we spent together has been rendered a priceless treasure given his untimely and traumatic passing. May his soul rest in peace.”
For now, the ANC in Gauteng said it was focusing on giving Matongo a dignified funeral, and not over who will replace him.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura described Matongo as a committed and selfless activist.
“During his short tenure as the Mayor of Johannesburg, Matongo dedicated his time to serve the overall improvement of the quality of life of the people of Johannesburg,” said Makhura.
The details of the funeral are yet to be announced.