ANC, Mbeki honour Mugabe at SA memorial

Yeukai Tazira Herald Reporter

THE African National Congress (ANC) yesterday held a memorial service for former President Robert Mugabe in KwaZulu-Natal and described him as an African statesman who played a key role in the liberation of Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Speaking at Durban City Hall yesterday, former South African President Thabo Mbeki said the late Cde Mugabe’s contribution to the liberation of the African people will never be forgotten.

Cde Mbeki, who was the guest speaker at the memorial service, said he had kept contact with Cde Mugabe while he was hospitalised in Singapore.

“Cde Mugabe will be remembered as an outstanding fighter for the liberation not only of the people of Zimbabwe, but also all other colonially and racially oppressed peoples,” he said.

“Having begun his involvement in that struggle as a member of the ANC Youth League at Fort Hare (University), he grew to become an important member of the group of Frontline States in Southern Africa which made a sterling contribution to our own struggle for emancipation from apartheid.

“Zimbabwe has lost a father of the nation! As Africans, we have lost an eminent leader of our victorious struggle for national liberation.”

Cde Mbeki was among a number of African and international leaders who came to Harare for Cde Mugabe’s State funeral service held at the National Sports Stadium on   Saturday.

In a statement released earlier yesterday, ANC KZN provincial secretary Cde Mdumiseni Ntuli said it was important for his party to honour Cde Mugabe since he was a graduate of the ANC.

“He was part of the ANC Youth League detachment. He was one of the students who were educated at Lovedale College as well as Fort Hare University. He is essentially part of us. He is not only a highly respected Pan-Africanist and a leader of the national democratic revolution, but equally, he is seen by many of us in a way that we see President Nelson Mandela and President Oliver Tambo.

“He really played a significant role in the formation of the ANC Youth League. That’s why we felt it was appropriate for us to remember and honour him in this dignified manner,” said Cde Ntuli.

International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor also said South Africa sympathises with Zimbabweans and the Government over the death of Cde Mugabe.

She described him as a great freedom fighter who played a sterling role in the freedom of Africa as well as in leading the struggle and building democracy in Zimbabwe.

The memorial at Durban City Hall was attended by over 5 000 guests.