The late former Speaker of the National Assembly and Namibia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs post-independence, Theo-Ben Gurirab, has been described as a politician without equal and a distinguished leader who served the country diligently.
Former Congress of Democrats (CoD) leader, Ben Ulenga, told the Windhoek Observer that he is extremely saddened by the passing on of Gurirab, whom he described as a true and honest friend.
“He was my teacher and inspiration in many respects. I am extremely saddened by his passing. I wish Mrs Guriras, the children and the whole clan consolation and strength at this hour of their bereavement,” Ulenga said.
SWAPO veteran politician, Helmut Angula, described the death of Gurirab, who also served as Namibia’s second prime minister between 2002 and 2005, as a great loss.
“He left a legacy worth emulating. He was a highly respected leader by all,” Angula said.
Former Kabbe Constituency Councillor, Raphael Mbala, said Gurirab was a very strong diplomat, good negotiator and seasoned politician who served the country with dignity and diligently.
“The nation has indeed lost a very strong diplomat, well balanced negotiator and a seasoned politician who was an outstanding representative for the SWAPO Party at the United Nations. Back home, the late Gurirab served this nation as Minister of Foreign Affairs with dignity, calm and convincingly without fear or favour.
“His performance as a diplomat was second to none. His legacy should remain a shining example to be emulated by the generations to come,” Mbala said.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) said in a statement that it is saddened by the death of Gurirab who was IPU President from 2008 to 2011.
“He was a world leader who brought great distinction and wisdom to the position. Dr Gurirab was known as a skillful negotiator and an eloquent speaker. As IPU President, he presided over the Third World Conference of Speakers of Parliament, held in July 2010. His address to the Conference still resonates, almost a decade later. I am deeply saddened by the passing of Theo-Ben Gurirab,” IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong said.
“Namibia and the world have lost a great man, a politician without equal.”
The President of SADC PF, Fernando da Piedade Dais dos Santos, who is also Speaker of the National Assembly of Angola, said the death of Gurirab has robbed the world of a “liberation hero, diplomat par excellence and an internationalist.”
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 added that Gurirab took Parliamentary diplomacy to new heights in that during his tenure, the IPU was granted observer status by the United Nations.
Gurirab, who died last weekend after a long illness, will be buried at the Heroes’ Acre this Saturday.
A state memorial service will be held at Parliament Gardens on Friday afternoon.