Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma expressed sadness at the death of Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini on Saturday.
“On behalf of government and all South Africans, we convey our heartfelt condolences to his family, the IFP and Parliament,” he said in a statement.
“May his soul rest in peace.”
Oriani-Ambrosini died on Saturday at the age of 53 after battling a rare form of inoperable lung cancer.
Parliament said Oriani-Ambrosini fought a valiant battle against cancer.
“We extend heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and his party, the IFP,” it said in a statement.
“He was tenacious in pursuing issues about which he felt strongly.”
Oriani-Ambrosini first became a Member of Parliament in 2009.
Earlier this year, after the May 7 elections, a very frail Oriani-Ambrosini lifted himself out of his wheelchair with the help of an ornate walking stick a year after announcing his diagnosis and read the oath of Parliament in his thick Italian accent.
The African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance also expressed sadness at the news of his death.
“Dr Ambrosini succumbed to his well documented fight against cancer, leaving behind a legacy of courageous determination in the face of adversity,” ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.
ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said Oriani-Ambrosini was no ordinary politician.
“Although we did not always agree with his political views, we held him in high regard for his constitutional expertise, remarkable experience on governance matters and for the contribution he made to our democratic transition process as an advisor to IFP leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi,” Sizani said in a statement.
“He was a fierce and outspoken debater, a seasoned negotiator, a principled legislator and a passionate politician.”
The DA said the country had lost a great man who would be missed.
“He was a fighter for human rights and democracy, a person of integrity who understood and advanced our cause, and a powerful friend,” DA federal chairman Wilmot James said in a statement.
“Mario will be remembered for his unparalleled contribution to Parliament and the defence of our freedom and the Constitution.” - Sapa