Ramaphosa: Annan a great leader and diplomat extraordinaire

President Cyril Ramphosa on Saturday hailed former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, who died on Saturday, for the impact he made on a global scale.

Describing Annan “as a great leader and diplomat extraordinaire”, Ramaphosa in a statement said that Annan had “advanced the African agenda within the United Nations" and had “flown the flag for peace” around the world.

He described Annan’s death as a “great shock and loss to the global community".

Meanwhile, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who, like Annan, served as a chairman of the human rights group The Elders, said that Annan had been a gift from God.

“We give great thanks to God for the outstanding Kofi Annan, an outstanding human being who represented our continent and the world with enormous graciousness, integrity and distinction,” said Tutu in a statement issued by his office.

“His passing is an unexpected and devastating loss, and Leah and I send our warmest love and deepest, deepest condolences to Nane and the Annan family.”

Tutu described working together with Annan at The Elders as a “tremendous honour and privilege”.

“Members of The Elders formed a special bond, and Leah and I send our condolences to this family, too.”

The Nelson Mandela Foundation also paid its respects on the death of Annan, saying he was regarded as a “friend” of the organisation.

Furthermore, he had enjoyed a “close relationship” with Mandela, the original founder of The Elders.

“The two leaders developed profound mutual respect as they worked together on numerous projects and interventions, including the Burundi Peace Process in the late 1990s and the early 2000s. Friendship blossomed from there.

“The Nelson Mandela Foundation mourns the loss of a friend and an advocate for peace and human rights. Africa and the world has lost a special human being. May he rest in peace.”

Former President Thabo Mbeki said Annan left his "indelible and positive imprint on many of the greatest global challenges". 

"These include the important issues of world peace, the promotion of human rights, the eradication of poverty and inequality, the protection of the most vulnerable such as refugees, and the renaissance of Africa," Mbeki said. 

Both the ANC and the DA also offered their condolences on Annan’s death.

The African National Congress’s Zizi Kodwa described Annan as both “an eminent and distinguished son of Africa” as well as a “great friend of the people of South Africa”.

They described his role in putting the issues of the “developing South” on the global agenda as “immeasurable”. 

Democratic Alliance MP Stevens Mokgalapa described Annan as “one of the great African diplomats of our time” and a “global statesman”.

“[He] will be remembered for the decades of his life he committed to the UN, and for furthering the cause of peace throughout the world.”

Annan's death, following a short illness, was announced earlier on Saturday. He was 80 years old.