Former Deputy Defence Minister and one of the United Democratic Front’s founders, Mluleki George, has passed away at the age of 72.
George was also a founder of the Congress of the People (Cope) after breaking away from the ANC in 2008.
Cope released a statement on Wednesday morning with the news. No details about when or how he died have been released.
“This is a massive loss to the country. Cde George gave everything to see his people and the country free. Indeed the country has lost another patriot who loved his country,” the statement read.
George was deputy defence minister from 2004 to 2008, and fought against apartheid in sports, especially rugby. He was elected to represent the ANC in Parliament after the first democratic elections.
The struggle stalwart broke away from the ANC and helped form Cope in 2008, after former President Jacob Zuma was elected to the top office.
“George was very vocal at the Polokwane Conference, warning the delegates that the ANC is taking a wrong direction and with Zuma as the leader he will not only destroy the ANC but the entire country, but the delegates did not want to listen and Zuma was elected,” the Cope statement read.
“We can never forget the huge contribution that comrade George made in our freedom struggle to free this country. What we enjoy today is because of the selfless sacrifices that comrade George made.”
George was also a member of the Methodist Church where he occupied senior leadership positions.
“We wish to express our heartfelt condolences to comrade Mluleki George’s family, his comrades and friends,” Cope said.