GIS – December 13, 2013: The National Assembly of Mauritius held a special sitting this afternoon to enable the House to pay tribute to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, former President of the Republic of South Africa, following his demise on 5 December 2013.
One minute of silence was observed by the House.
The Prime Minister, Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, FRCP, in his address said that it was with a feeling of deep humility and a profound sense of loss that the National Assembly was gathered to pay tribute to ‘one of the greatest politicians of our time, an exceptional leader of men who had become a beacon of peace and reconciliation for the whole world and the moral conscience of his age’. Nelson Mandela, stated the Prime Minister, was an inspirational leader of unyielding courage and breathtaking magnanimity who healed the wounds of a nation’s soul and came to epitomise the struggle for justice.
‘We all knew he was inevitably fading away from us during the last part of his life, yet when the moment came it left us numb and speechless’, observed Dr Ramgoolam.
The Prime Minister said that he felt humbled to have known such an exceptional human being. He also elaborated on Mr Mandela’s political struggle and life journey qualifying the latter as the ‘Gandhi of Africa’.
According to the Prime Minister, Nelson Mandela’s struggle for freedom and democracy was iconic. ‘He was a unique statesman who will be forever remembered as a rare gift of God to humanity. We will always be inspired by his leadership and his struggle to give dignity to the oppressed and the voiceless’, he stated.
The Prime Minister announced that he has requested the Bank of Mauritius to ask the main Banks to consider awarding three scholarships to deserving students from Mandela’s birthplace. Moreover, a statue of Nelson Mandela will be erected on the Waterfront in Port Louis as a mark of Mauritius’ profound admiration for such a distinguished leader.
The Prime Minister also informed the House that action is being taken to restructure the Nelson Mandela Centre for African Culture. Amendments to the Act will be effected to review its membership and ensure effective implementation of measures towards the attainment of objectives of the recommendations of the Truth and Justice Commission.
Dr Ramgoolam stated that the day of Mr Mandela’s burial, that is Sunday the 15 December 2013, would be declared day of mourning. He further invited all Mauritians wherever they are and whatever they are doing to stop and observe one minute of silence at the time of Mr Mandela’s burial.
The Leader of the Opposition and the Speaker associated themselves to the Prime Minister in the tribute paid to Mr Mandela.
It is recalled that Nelson Mandela was on a State Visit to Mauritius in September 1998. During his visit, the National Assembly had been convened on 12 September 1998 to an extraordinary sitting to welcome the unique Statesman, then President of the Republic of South Africa. ‘On my return to South Africa, I will be able to report to my people that in Mauritius we have a friend indeed and a partner for peace, prosperity and equity as we enter a new millennium’, he had said in his address in the National Assembly.
The Mauritius Flag on all Government buildings is being kept at half-mast since 6 December 2013 until 15 December, the date of the funeral.
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