THE ANC has expressed profound sadness at the news of the death of former UN secretary-general and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan.
“An eminent and distinguished son of Africa, Mr Annan was a great friend of the people of South Africa who played an immeasurable role in shaping the global agenda in favour of the people of the developing South,” head of the ANC presidency Zizi Kodwa said.
As the 7th UN secretary-general, Annan painstakingly used his tenure to advance peace and sustainable development while working determinedly to push back the frontiers of poverty and underdevelopment, Kodwa said.
At the time of his death, Annan formed part of the group of eminent persons - The Elders - whose stated mission was working together for peace and human rights. Among his many passions was silencing the guns on the African continent and delivering universal health coverage to all people.
“The ANC joins the people of the world in mourning the departure of this great statesman. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Annan family during this difficult period of grief,” Kodwa said.
Annan was 80 years of age. The Ghanaian diplomat was awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, and was the first black African to head the UN.
Annan died in the early hours of Saturday in Switzerland after a short illness, according to a statement issued by his family. He served as secretary-general from January 1997 to December 2006, and became the first black African to take on the top job as the world’s top diplomat. He was founder and chairperson of the Kofi Annan Foundation.
The Thabo Mbeki Foundation also expressed shock at the death of Annan.
“It was with great shock that the patron of our foundation former president Thabo Mbeki and the rest of the foundation heard the news that the former secretary-general of the UN Mr Kofi Annan had passed away,” foundation said.
This was particularly shocking given that only a month ago, in July, a healthy looking Annan had joined the people of South Africa in Joburg to celebrate the centenary of the birth of former president Nelson Mandela, the foundation said.
“Over the years, as Africans, we have held Kofi Annan in high esteem. Following in the footsteps of Boutros Boutros Ghali he was the second African to hold the high position of secretary-general of the UN. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize because of his contribution to world peace during his tenure as UN secretary-general.”
IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said: “I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Mr Kofi Annan.
“On behalf of the IFP, I extend my deepest condolences to Mrs Nane Annan and the children. This loss is a shock to us all. I was with Mr Annan just last month as I joined The Elders for the commemoration of 100 years since the birth of former president Nelson Mandela.
“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,” he said.
Amnesty International secretary-general Kumi Naidoo said the world had lost a great leader.
“Kofi’s dedication and drive for a more peaceful and just world, his lifelong championing of human rights, and the dignity and grace with which he led will be sorely missed in a world which needs these characteristics more than ever,” Naidoo said.
“I had the enormous privilege to work with Kofi on tackling climate change, poverty, and gender equality. I saw first-hand his deep commitment to partnerships with civil society in all the global challenges which the UN addressed.”
DA spokesperson Stevens Mokgalapa said Annan 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,” he said.
“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.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described his predecessor as a man who personified the UN and its values.
“Kofi Annan was a guiding force for good. It is with profound sadness that I learnt of his passing. In many ways, Kofi Annan was the UN,” Guterres said.
“Like so many, I was proud to call Kofi a good friend and a mentor. I was deeply honoured by his trust in selecting me to serve as UN High Commissioner for Refugees under his leadership. He remained someone I could always turn to for counsel and wisdom, and I know that I was not alone.” See page 7