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Parliament’s Presiding Officers, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Amos Masondo, join the nation in mourning the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and pay tribute to the immense contribution he made to the struggle against apartheid and the creation of the new democratic dispensation.
The Presiding Officers said in the passing of Archbishop Tutu, the nation has not only lost a true advocate and a gallant fighter of liberation and democracy, but it has lost a father and the quintessence of love, peace and hope.
“Archbishop Tutu diligently served the country and had remained faithful to his calling of service to the people. He fought hard for the liberation and freedom of the country and has, through his humble nature, inspired all of us and led with great wisdom and passion worthy of emulation”, said the Presiding Officers.
On 9 May 1994, he introduced South Africa’s first democratically elected President, Mr Nelson Mandela, from the same balcony at the City Hall in Cape Town, where Mr Mandela had delivered his first speech as a free man on 11 February 1990.
On that day, 9 May 1994, the first democratic Parliament was constituted, and the 400-member National Assembly had unanimously elected Mr Mandela as the President of the Republic of South Africa.
Archbishop Tutu reminded the crowd gathered on the Grand Parade opposite the City Hall that 9 May was a day South Africa had waited for 300 years.
The Presiding Officers said the Arch, as Archbishop Tutu was affectionately referred to, never hesitated to express his critical voice against any occurrence or move he regarded as unconstitutional or against the ethos of democracy and the spirit of the rainbow nation.
Although he retired from public life, he continued serving as an irreplaceable voice of reason, an ever-flowing fountain of wisdom, a beacon of hope and an incomparable moral compass for the nation of South Africa and the world. He never wavered on matters of principle. As a servant of God and a spiritual leader of His people, he spoke and led with truth; he shouldered the pain of his people and battled with them for a life of dignity, justice and equality.
He fought fiercely and with great courage and fearlessness against the apartheid regime, which he described as “is evil, totally and without remainder”. During post-liberation, he fought with equal force and zeal, laying a solid foundation for peace and reconciliation for new South Africa.
Said the Presiding Officers: “Throughout his life, he remained a true patriot and a fearless leader of the people. He led from the front even in very difficult times of repression, unapologetically speaking truth to power no matter the circumstances and remained a humble servant of the people of South Africa.”
We mourn his passing but take comfort that his legacy of service to building a just society will endure through the many lives he touched and changed in our country and the world.
May his soul rest in peace.