Zuma pays tribute to Hugo Chavez
6 March 2013
South African President Jacob Zuma on has paid tribute to Hugo Chavez following the Venezuelan president's death on Tuesday, describing him as a visionary leader who was committed to the social struggles of the less fortunate.
Chavez died on Tuesday after battling cancer for almost two years.
Zuma said in a statement on Wednesday that Chavez had "instituted a dramatic change under the government's 'Bolivarian' approach in Latin America and beyond in promoting regional integration based on the principles of social justice.
"Our hearts are with the family of President Chavez, as well as the government and the people of Venezuela during this difficult time of mourning the departure of this respected revolutionary leader of Venezuela and indeed the entire progressive family of nations."
Other world leaders have also offered their condolences.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was saddened by the death of Chavez and offered his condolences to the family of the president, the government and the people of Venezuela.
"President Chavez spoke to the challenges and aspirations of the most vulnerable Venezuelans."
The late president "provided decisive impetus for new regional integration movements, based on an eminently Latin American vision, while showing solidarity toward other nations in the hemisphere," Ban said.
In Washington, US President Barack Obama said in a short written statement that the United States hoped to improve bilateral ties with Venezuela.
"At this challenging time of President Hugo Chavez's passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government," Obama said.
In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was saddened by the death, adding that the Venezuelan leader had left a "lasting impression" on his people.
In a statement, French President Francois Hollande praised Chavez for his determination "to fight for justice".
"The late president expressed, while his temperament and the positions he took were not shared by everyone, an undeniable wish to fight for justice and development."
Hollande said he was sure that Venezuela would overcome this test of its democracy and stability.
Venezuela will hold a presidential election within 30 days. In the meanwhile, Vice President Nicolas Maduro will take over the presidential duties.