The SADC Parliamentary Forum has joined the Government, people of Namibia and the international community in expressing deepest condolences following the passing on of Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, the former Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia and also former President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
In a statement, the President of SADC PF, Fernando da Piedade Dais dos Santos, who is also Speaker of the National Assembly of Angola, said death had robbed the world of a “liberation hero, diplomat par excellence and an internationalist.”
Gurirab died on Saturday 14 July 2018. He served as Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia after the late Dr. Mose Tjitendero, the founding Speaker of the National Assembly of the Parliament of Namibia who was also the founding Chairperson of the SADC PF.
Dos Santos said Namibia was not only instrumental in establishing the SADC PF, but continues to host the Forum’s Secretariat.
“As a result, the SADC PF has benefitted from the wise stewardship of three successive Speakers of the National Assembly. This bears testimony to Namibia’s commitment to the SADC Integration Agenda and to the Forum, which is the voice of SADC Parliamentarians,” he said.
Dos Santos recalled that in 2007, SADC Parliamentarians nominated Gurirab as their candidate for the coveted position of President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
“Subsequently the African continent unanimously endorsed his candidature. Hon. Dr. Gurirab was elected by more than 170 parliaments and served from 2008 to 2011,” he said.
He said Gurirab took Parliamentary diplomacy to new heights in that during his tenure, the IPU was granted observer status by the United Nations.
“By supporting the call for the transformation of the SADC PF into a SADC Regional Parliament, Hon. Dr. Gurirab advocated for the appreciation of Parliamentary diplomacy in the SADC Region.”
Dos Santos said the greatest honour that the SADC Region could bestow “on this gentle giant” is to heed the call for the establishment of a SADC Regional Parliament.
“The upcoming 38th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government which will be held on 17th – 18th August 2018 in Windhoek, presents a golden opportunity,” Dos Santos said.
He noted Gurirab’s commitment and role in shaping the international development agenda.
“The leadership he provided during his tenure as President of the United Nations General Assembly (1999-2000) led to the development of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs.) The MDGs laid the foundation for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): the current international blueprint,” he said.
Quoting the vision statement of the 17 SDGs which run from 2015 to 2030, dos Santos said: “We can be the first generation to end extreme poverty, the most determined generation in history to end injustice and inequality, and the last generation to be threatened by climate change.”
He encouraged the world to recommit to serving humanity in honour of Gurirab.