Statement by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, on the passing of former Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, 28 September 2023
The late Aziz Pahad, who passed away on 27 September 2023, will be remembered for his outstanding contribution to the fight against apartheid in South Africa and for his life-long commitment to the promotion of human rights on the international stage.
Pahad served as the Deputy Minister of the then Department of Foreign Affairs (now the Department of International Relations and Cooperation) from 1994 to 2008. In this role, Pahad became one of the first people at the forefront of establishing relations with the international community after many countries had severed ties with South Africa during the apartheid years.
Pahad was a fierce proponent of an independent foreign policy for South Africa. He was a principled champion for human rights, especially the oppressed and marginalised people. From Palestine to Western Sahara, he spoke for the voiceless and was unwavering in his implementation of South Africa’s foreign policy, which recognises the right to self-determination of the aforementioned peoples.
In April 2021, the University of Pretoria conferred him an honoris causa (honorary doctorate) in Literature. The university recognised Pahad for his “contributions to local and international peace, security, justice and international solidarity”. The university said: “Pahad’s contributions and approach to diplomacy bring strong moral convictions, careful judgement and, above all, a quiet, influential determination in the search for solutions to South Africa’s challenges”.
Years after relinquishing his role in government, Pahad remained active in civic affairs. In 2018, he chaired the Foreign Policy Review Panel appointed by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. As a result of the report, DIRCO initiated a number of changes aimed at enhancing the implementation of South Africa’s foreign policy. Post-retirement, Pahad also maintained close ties with those pursuing the Palestinian and Saharawi causes. These were causes he would remain dear to, for as long as he lived.
At the Ubuntu Awards organised by DIRCO in February 2023, Pahad was awarded the OR Tambo Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his contribution to a South Africa that is free and democratic and a world that is fair and just.
On behalf of all South African diplomats at home and abroad, and all freedom-loving people of the world, we pass our deepest condolences to the Pahad family. May the indomitable spirit of Pahad continue to guide our country as we continue the search for a better South Africa and a better world.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
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