ADDIS ABABA/UNITED NATIONS. – The African Union has paid its respects to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. In a statement on its website, African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said he learnt with “great shock and profound sadness of the death of Madikizela-Mandela”.
The AU chief described her as a “fearless campaigner who sacrificed much of her life for freedom in South Africa”.
The struggle icon died on Monday at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg.
“She never relented in her struggle or wavered in her commitment, despite imprisonment, banishment, and decades-long seperation from her then husband Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment,” Mahamat said.
“Winnie Madikazela-Mandela paved the way for women in the struggle to end apartheid, and fought relentlessly for their rights and welfare in her country.”
In 2017, the African Union Commission awarded Madikizela-Mandela with a lifetime achievement award.
Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari commiserated with the family of the deceased, the government and people of South Africa and urged them to be “consoled by the knowledge that Winnie Mandela’s contributions to ending apartheid will not be forgotten”.
President Buhari described the passing away of South-African anti-apartheid icon as “a huge loss to Africa, of a courageous woman” adding that “she remained a pride not only to the African woman, but indeed all Africans”.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta also paid tribute to Madikizela-Mandela.
President Kenyatta said that Africans should emulate the struggle icon. Several other African heads of state, including Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, have also paid tribute to Madikizela-Mandela.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was saddened by the death of Madikizela-Mandela, who was an anti-apartheid leader in her own right.
“The secretary-general is saddened by the passing of Ms. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, a leading figure at the forefront of the fight against apartheid in South Africa,” Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman, told reporters.
“She was a strong and fearless voice in the struggle for equal rights and will be remembered as a symbol of resistance,” said the spokesman.
The secretary-general extended his deepest condolences to the people of South Africa and to Madikizela-Mandela’s family, he said. – News Agencies/Xinhua.