Kofi Annan: South Africa joins the world in tributes

Tony Ekata, Pretoria


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has described Kofi Annan as a “diplomat extraordinaire” who was focused on world peace.

Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said: “Mr. Annan was a great friend of the South African people. The president has called him a diplomat extraordinaire.”

President Ramaphosa described the 80-year-old diplomat, who passed away after a short illness surrounded by his loved ones in Switzerland on Saturday morning, as ‘one of a kind leader’.

The Deputy President, David Mabuza, who also paid his tributes said Annan’s legacy must be celebrated worldwide.

“He marched with our leaders as we tried to reconcile a country that was broken,” Mabuza declared.

South Africa’s foremost opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) described Annan as one of the “great African diplomats of our time”, stressing that he would be sorely missed.

“The Nobel Peace Laureate and global statesman will be remembered for the decades of his life he committed to the UN‚ and for furthering the cause of peace throughout the world.

“As the first Secretary General from Sub-Saharan Africa‚ he brought a special commitment to the continent into the UN and worked tirelessly to bring stability to its nations‚” said Democratic Reliance Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Stevens Mokgalapa.

He added that as Chairperson of The Elders and close friend of Tata Nelson Mandela‚ Annan had continued to promote the principles of justice‚ tolerance and friendship to all after stepping down from the UN.

“His absence will be keenly felt‚ and we offer our deepest condolences to his wife and family. He will be sorely missed and greatly celebrated.”

Devastating death

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu‚ a fellow Nobel Peace laureate‚ described Annan’s death as “devastating”.

“We give great thanks to God for Kofi Annan‚ an outstanding human being who represented our continent and the world with enormous graciousness‚ integrity and distinction.

“His passing is an unexpected and devastating loss‚ and Leah and I send our warmest love and deepest‚ deepest condolences to Nane and the Annan family‚” Tutu said.

He added: “It was a tremendous honour and privilege to have Kofi serve as a member of The Elders during my period as chairperson‚ and to be succeeded by someone of his calibre.”

Parliament’s presiding officers‚ Speaker Baleka Mbete and Chairperson, Thandi Modise said South Africa‚ Africa and the world were poorer after losing a luminary son of the African soil who‚ ‘through his character and its manifestation in various facets of life‚ not only served but inspired humanity across the world’.

They described Annan as a distinguished international statesman‚ champion of peace‚ an advocate for universal human right and indefatigable crusader for social justice.

“He had a special place in his heart for South Africa and keen interest in its developmental trajectory. He had called on South Africa to assert its role as a world leader in so many respects. We dare not fail.”

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said that he had been with Annan just last month when he had joined The Elders to commemorate what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday.

“At the invitation of Mrs Graça Machel‚ we opened the 100 Sparks of Hope Peace Park. Mr Annan seemed quite well and none of us could have known that this would be his last visit to South Africa.

“Our country mourns with the global community. We will remember his leadership and his enormous capacity for empathy. His life’s contribution to the alleviation of poverty and suffering has changed millions of lives for good. His legacy is vast and will remain in our hearts and on our lips for years to come‚” Mangosuthu said.

Mandela’s grandson‚ Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela‚ said Annan would be remembered as a visionary who worked tirelessly for many humanitarian causes.

“We shall remember him for the immense contribution he made to the many vulnerable sectors of humanity‚ women‚ children‚ orphans the disabled and refugees,” Mandela stated.