President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid tribute to the former Zimbabwean President Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
The late statesman, who served as Zimbabwe’s first post-independence President, passed away in Singapore at the age of 95.
Speaking at the funeral service at the national sports stadium in Harare in Zimbabwe, President Ramaphosa lauded Mugabe for his contribution to South Africa’s liberation struggle.
“President Mugabe was a friend of the African National Congress and the people of South Africa and he stood by us during our darkest hour. He was unwavering in his support for our liberation struggle.
“Under his leadership Zimbabwe, and especially Zanu PF, gave both moral and material support to us at a time when our leadership was forced into exile and our people were suffering under the yolk of apartheid,” said the President.
President Ramaphosa said South Africa remembers with respect the legacy of President Mugabe and the sacrifices he personally made.
When South Africa became a democracy, Mugabe was the first African Head of State to be received by President Nelson Mandela.
President Mandela had told Mugabe that the people of Zimbabwe and he in particular deserved the country’s profound gratitude for the role he played in the national liberation efforts, both as members of the OAU and in his capacity as the leader and chair of the frontline states.
“This was indeed a fitting tribute, he was a committed Pan Africanist, unwavering in his belief and destiny and fortunes of Africa. Above all we are both clear he was an African hero. We would like to thank the President Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe for the contribution they made to our struggle,” said President Ramaphosa.
The President took the opportunity to address the recent incidents of violence in South Africa.
“In the past two weeks, we as South Africans have been going through a challenging period, erupting in acts of violence in parts of our country some of which was directed to nationals from other countries.
“I stand before you as a fellow African to express my regret and to apologise for what has happened in our country,” said the President.
In an address to the media on Friday, the former President’s nephew Leo Mugabe said his uncle will be laid to rest following the construction of his final resting site at Heroes Acre. – SAnews.gov.za