NDZ pays homage to ‘bridge-builder’ An­nan

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS - MATLHATSI DIBAKWANE

matlhatsi.dibakwane@inl.co.za KOFI An­nan, the former sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the UN, was a gen­tle gi­ant, said Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

She was speak­ing at a memo­rial ser­vice for An­nan held at Unisa’s ZK Matthews Great Hall yes­ter­day.

An­nan, 80, died in Switzer­land last Satur­day.

An­nan was de­scribed var­i­ously as a true na­tion­al­ist, a trail­blazer, an African ele­phant, a torch-bearer, and Africa’s bright­est star.

Dlamini Zuma who was the key­note speaker, de­scribed An­nan as a gen­tle and a level-headed leader who led from the front, even when the UN tack­led burn­ing is­sues in the world.

“The pass­ing of Kofi An­nan was reached with a sense of dis­be­lief, we ex­tend our con­do­lences to his fam­ily, their loss is our loss and we thank them for shar­ing him with the world,” Dlamini Zuma said.

She said what sin­gled An­nan out from other lead­ers was the abil­ity to un­der­stand the re­al­ity Africans faced, and how he had grown from the UN ranks since join­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion in 1962 at the age of 24.

“Kofi went on to find new ways of meet­ing re­al­i­ties Africans faced, that could have not been fore­seen by the UN at the time it was es­tab­lished,” she said.

“He also un­der­stood that in mo­ments of cri­sis a wise man builds bridges and not dams – he was a builder of bridges.

“One of his ac­com­plish­ments was to build a bridge be­tween the pri­vate sec­tor and civil so­ci­ety.

“With the kind of leader he was, we will for­ever re­main in­debted – hu­mil­ity is a trait of great peo­ple and he was one of those peo­ple.

“Even in his re­tire­ment he was there to give ad­vice,” she said.

Among the dig­ni­taries was the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; former UN high com­mis­sioner for hu­man rights Judge Navi Pil­lay; Ghana High Com­mis­sioner Ge­orge Ay­isiBoateng; and the former min­is­ter of fi­nance, Trevor Manuel.

Mlambo-Ngcuka paid trib­ute to An­nan and de­scribed him as a man who was loud but in a soft­spo­ken way, yet heard in all the cor­ners of the world, an el­e­ment that de­scribed the cal­i­bre of man he was.

“He lit­er­ally fell with his boots on,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

She said he was a true voice for the voice­less, a voice which did not shy away from speak­ing for those who could not speak for them­selves.

An­nan was the 7th sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the UN and held that po­si­tion from 1997 to 2006.

Be­fore be­ing elected as sec­re­tary-gen­eral, he headed the UN Depart­ment of Peace­keep­ing Oper­a­tions dur­ing a pe­riod which saw an un­prece­dented growth in the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s field pres­ence.

His first ma­jor ini­tia­tive as UN chief was a plan for UN re­form, pre­sented to mem­ber states in July 1997.

An­nan used his of­fice to ad­vo­cate for hu­man rights, the rule of law, devel­op­ment and Africa, and he worked to bring the UN closer to peo­ple world­wide by forg­ing ties with civil so­ci­ety, the pri­vate sec­tor and other part­ners.

As sec­re­tary-gen­eral, he also gal­vanised global ac­tion to fight HIV/ Aids and com­bat ter­ror­ism.

An­nan and the UN jointly were awarded the No­bel Peace Prize in 2001.

Af­ter the dig­ni­fied memo­rial ser­vice, dig­ni­taries and diplo­mats signed the con­do­lences book.

PIC­TURE: THOBILE MATHONSI/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA),

Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency for Plan­ning, Mon­i­tor­ing and Eval­u­a­tion Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma signs the book of con­do­lences at the memo­rial ser­vice of former UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral, Kofi An­nan held at Unisa in Pre­to­ria.

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