ANC Spox on Aziz Pahad's Legacy: 'Brains Behind International Relations Thinking' in South Africa
On Wednesday, South African renowned fighter against apartheid regime Aziz Pahad passed away at the age of 82 surrounded by his family in the country's city of Johannesburg.
The late South African anti-apartheid activist Aziz Pahad was "the brains behind of the international relations thinking in the country," when he served as the deputy foreign minister, the spokesperson of the state's ruling party African National Congress (ANC), Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri told Sputnik Africa.
"He has served as the longest Deputy Minister for what then was called Foreign Affairs, what we now call International Relations and Cooperation department of our democratic government. He was always comfortable to take the back seat and do the back-end work. But all of those of us and many South Africans who understood how he played his leadership role was always the brains behind a lot of the international relations thinking in the country," Bhengu-Motsiri said.
The spokesperson added that Pahad will be remembered for "really fashioning a number of foreign policy-related aspects in the democracy." The official also noted the activist's performance under the leadership of former President Thabo Mbeki, during which Pahad put forward a number of solutions that "the tenure of government offered to the people of South Africa and the people of the world."
Pahad was appointed as the deputy foreign minister in 1991 and remained in this position until 2008, having served two South African leaders, Nelson Mandela
and Thabo Mbeki.
Speaking about Pahad's role in the foreign policy, the official emphasized his efforts to regulate the situation with Iraq.
"He brokered a number of peace deals, including having been sent by former presidents to war-stricken zones to go and broker peace, and that would include Iraq," she revealed.
The activist played an important role in South Africa's attempt to stop the US-led attack on Iraq in 2003. Moreover, in Africa, Pahad contributed to bringing peace to the warring groups of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Angola.
Apart from that, in 2004, the deputy foreign minister stood up for Palestinians, arguing at the International Court of Justice the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier, built by Israel along the line, demarcated after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and inside parts of the Palestinian territories.
Continuing the talk about highlights of the activist's life, Bhengu-Motsiri underlined that Pahad will be remembered as "a fine strategist," "an international relations thinker," "a diplomat of note," will be remembered for "his intellectual strength."
In addition, the spokeswoman underscored the liberation heritage of the fighter against racial discrimination.
"And prior to that, of course, during the struggle against apartheid, [he] was at the forefront of mobilizing the international community against the apartheid system, and he stood very strongly for a non-racial, humane, just and democratic society," she noted.
Pahad joined the anti-apartheid movement at an early age, taking part in the Transvaal Indian Congress, which combatted discrimination
against Indians in the Transvaal Province of South Africa.
However, in 1964, the activist was forced to leave his country and go into exile, following the order restricting his movements, which he received in 1963. Most of the time of his exile, Pahad spent in London, the United Kingdom, where he continued to combat apartheid by working for the exiled ANC. He returned to South Africa in 1990 during the negotiations to end apartheid
Commenting on what will be done to commemorate 'the son of South Africa,' Bhengu-Motsiri said that the announcements on the issue will be made by the country's President Cyril Ramaphosa, adding that the ANC along with a number of local communities will "certainly memorialize him in various ways."
"I know that the President is going to make an announcement in relation to the respect that will be shown by our government in terms of the category of the funeral that will be accorded to somebody of his stature. But secondly, the ANC will memorialize him in various ways, the details of which, of course, we are going to unpack not so late. We will do so with due regard for consultations with the family. But I'm certain that a number of communities, including scholarly communities, will be doing a lot to memorialize him," the official stressed.
In conclusion, the spokesperson highlighted that "many ways have to be thought through to continue to memorialize this giant, the son of Africa, the son of South Africa
, the son of the world, a great patriot," adding that the activist himself "has presented his own views in that regard."