Acting Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia,
Excellencies Heads of State and government,
The 20th of August 2012 was a sad day on the calendar of the African Union and Africa, as we lost one of the greatest sons of the continent, His Excellency Prime Minister Legesse Zenawi Asres.
This is a painful period for the people of Ethiopia, to lose such a young leader, a patriot and a visionary.
With Prime Minister Zenawi at the helm, a generation of Ethiopians has seen their country emerge from hunger and destitution to be a fast growing economy.
The policies of his party and government have delivered a sustained double digit economic growth rate. If this continues, his beloved Ethiopia will become a middle-income country.
Indeed, his legacy is defined by the sprawling city that Addis Ababa has become, the stability that Ethiopia enjoys and its new-found ability to provide food for its people.
His ideas were framed around the need to achieve social justice for his people and conquer poverty not just in Ethiopia but in all parts of Africa.
As African leaders we are proud of Prime Minister Zenawi and the leadership he provided on issues affecting the continent, around the globe.
He took a leading role on Africa’s negotiations on climate change, in peacemaking in Sudan and in the fight to bring stability back to Somalia.
Prime Minister Meles’s ascendancy as a liberation fighter and then later as the leader of Ethiopia was due to the force of his intellect, which not many could match.
He was ready to engage in debate with policy makers, diplomats and scholars from around the world.
He was invited to groups of powerful nations such as the G8 and G20, not only due to the size or history of his country, but mainly due to the size of his ideas.
Prime Minister Zenawi was a builder of institutions.
He played a prominent role in the New Partnership of Africa's Development (NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee and formed a solid alliance between Ethiopia and South Africa in our joint efforts to promote the African Renaissance.
South Africa has always considered Ethiopia as one of the anchor states and a leading country in the Horn of Africa and with President Zenawi at the helm, we were always assured of support and encouragement.
On behalf of the people and the Government of the Republic of South Africa, I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and to all the people of Ethiopia.
We also extend our condolences to the party that Prime Minister Zenawi led, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, a close ally of the African National Congress, South Africa’s ruling party and liberation movement.
Undeniably, our colleague, friend and comrade has left a lasting impression in Ethiopia and on the continent as a whole.
We should, as a collective, within the institution whose headquarters he generously hosted,advance his achievements in honour of his contribution and leadership.
Farewell my dear Brother and Comrade!
May his soul rest in eternal peace.
I thank you.