Zuma sends condolences to Venezuela
President Jacob Zuma sent condolences to the people of Venezuela on Wednesday following the death of their President Hugo Chavez.
"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," Zuma said in a statement.
Chavez died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer, ending 14 years of rule in Venezuela.
Zuma paid tribute to Chavez's visionary leadership since he took office on February 2, 1999, and his commitment to the social struggles of the less fortunate in Venezuela.
He said that under Chavez's leadership, Venezuela had instituted a dramatic change in promoting regional integration based on the principles of social justice.
Earlier, expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema joined leaders mourning Chavez's death.
"I join millions of progressive individuals... in sending my heartfelt condolences to the people of Venezuela for loosing a fearless, politically determined and ideologically steadfast leader in President Hugo Chavez," he said in a statement.
Malema said Chavez was among the few revolutionaries who challenged the dominance of imperialism in the world and exposed its weaknesses.
"Despite massive resistance from rented imperialist puppets, President Hugo Chavez was able to lead Venezuela into an era where the wealth of
Venezuela, particularly oil, was returned to the ownership of the people as a whole," Malema said.
The Young Communist League of SA said it was devastated at the news.
"Comrade Chavez was an inspiration to all progressive forces around the world.... His defiance of imperialism and his insistence that Venezuela's vast oil reserves be used to uplift the masses of the people has changed the lives of millions of people," spokesman Khaya Xaba said.
Xaba said Chavez had shown how socialism could benefit all.