By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Former KwaZulu-Natal premier and Eskom chair Dr Ben Ngubane died from Covid-19 complications this morning.
Melomed Richards Bay Private Hospital spokesperson Randal Pedro said Ngubane had been admitted to the facility. "It is with regret that we confirm that this retired politician and former KwaZulu-Natal premier, and SABC and Eskom chairperson has [died] earlier this morning at about 1.40am.
"Our family mourns this great loss, as Dr Ngubane played a pivotal role in the transformation of the private healthcare landscape in northern KwaZulu-Natal in an advisory capacity and I will personally miss his guidance and teaching," he said.
Pedro said Melomed was privileged to have had his years of loyal patronage and support, not just as a patient but as "an advisory for access to health care and, in doing so, upheld his oath as a medical doctor".
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sheila, and his children and grandchildren during their time of bereavement, as we mourn this great loss together with them."
Meanwhile International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, has conveyed her heartfelt condolences to Dr Ben Ngubane’s family, friends and colleagues.
Pandor said Ngubane played a pivotal role in the construction of South Africa’s firm science and technology foundation as the first Minister of Arts, Culture, Science, and Technology in 1994, from which South Africa continues to reap benefits.
"When I became Minister of Science and Technology in 2009, I had the pleasure of benefitting from the solid foundation that Dr Ngubane and my other predecessors had put in place. It made it easy for us to focus on speeding up the implementation of the projects they had started.
"South Africa owes a debt of gratitude to Dr Ngubane for pioneering our science and technology," Pandor said.
Ngubane was the minister of Arts, Culture from 1994 until August 1996 and from February 1999 until April 2004.
He also served on the Eskom board from December 2014, resigning in June 2017 after serving as chairperson from October 2015. He also previously chaired the SABC board and the Land Bank.
In 1991, Ngubane was appointed minister of health in the KwaZulu-Natal government, a post he held until 1994.In 1992, Ngubane served on the Codesa working group which dealt with constitutional principles and constitution making on behalf of the Inkatha Freedom Party.
In 2004, he was appointed ambassador to Japan, serving in this capacity until 2008. In 2010, he was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun for his contributions "to the enhancement of the relationship and the cooperation in science and technology between Japan and South Africa".