By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) - South Africa Tuesday started seven days of mourning in honor of Frene Ginwala, the late founding speaker of the country’s first democratically elected parliament.
The country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the mourning period on Monday night. He directed the National Flag be flown at half-mast at all flag stations around the country until the evening of Jan. 24, 2023.
Last Thursday, Ginwala died at her home in Cape Town at the age of 90.
The presidency said Ginwala was a distinguished citizen who served her country well in various roles including as an anti-apartheid activist, lawyer, academic, political leader, and journalist.
“Among the many roles she adopted in the course of a life she led to the full, we are duty-bound to recall her establishment of our democratic Parliament which exercised the task of undoing decades-old apartheid legislation and fashioning the legislative foundations of the free and democratic South Africa,” Ramaphosa’s office said in a statement.
South Africa ended decades of apartheid rule in 1994 when it held its first multiracial election which the governing African National Congress (ANC) party won.
Ramaphosa described Ginwala as a “formidable patriot” and “leader of the nation,” and an internationalist, saying justice and democracy around the globe remained an impassioned objective to her last days.
“Many of the rights and material benefits South Africans enjoy today have their origins in the legislative programme of the inaugural democratic Parliament under Dr. Ginwala’s leadership, with Nelson Mandela occupying the seat of the first President to be elected by the democratic Parliament,” Ramaphosa said.
The presidency said it will announce details of an official memorial service.