The prominent business, who is often referred to as the “godfather of black economic empowerment (BEE)” died of a heart attack in the early hours of Saturday.
He chaired several BEE companies. He served as an economic adviser to the ANC for many years.
The ANC’s Mdumiseni Ntuli in KwaZulu-Natal told news channel eNCA they were deeply saddened by news of his death and would be commiserating with his family. He said Mkhwanazi had helped to shape the direction the ANC took on economic matters. He said that Mkhwanazi fell ill after attending “an occasion” and then had to be rushed to hospital.
He described him as a “businessman with a conscience”. He said Mkhwanazi had been committed to transforming the economy and helping the downtrodden and the poor. He wanted the business community to support and uplift the poor.
He was also known as a longtime supporter of President Jacob Zuma and started the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust, which helped to support Zuma during Zuma’s years in the political wilderness after he was fired as deputy president by then president Thabo Mbeki. It also offered to help him set his repayment bill on Nkandla, which has now been determined to be R7.8 million.
The Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust will help the president repay what he owes for his Nkandla upgrades if he approaches them, its founder has said.
Earlier this year, Mkhwanazi told News24: “As an organisation we are virtually nonexistent because we did what we had to do back then. But if [Zuma] needs us individually, we will always support him, like we always did in the past.”
In 2014, according to the Sunday Times, Mkhwanazi denied that his link with the president had anything to do with the awarding of R406 million in navy contracts to a company in which he had a 48% stake.