The people and governments of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region received with sorrow and heartfelt grief, the sad news of the passing on of one of the region's great icon leader of peace, justice, equality and freedom; the former President of the Republic of South Africa and former Chairperson of SADC, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Throughout his life, Nelson Mandela was not only a torch bearer of the fight against injustice, apartheid, colonialism and exploitation, but also an inspiration and symbol of struggle to all the people under colonial domination. He provided hope for the down trodden and instilled a sense of selfless sacrifice. The legacy he left behind shall continue to inspire multitudes for generations.
We would like to assure the people of South Africa the we are standing with them during this difficult moment in the history of their country when they are mourning the loss of their first democratic President. At this time, we would like to remind all South Africans to be guided by the spirit of tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation which the late Mandela advocated. We also call upon all South Africans to exercise due diligence and to remain peaceful, emulating the Mandela legacy.
We wish the bereaved Mandela family steadfastness, strength, good health, peace and comfort. We are aware that it is humanly difficult to accept the reality of his passing on, but let the family of Mandela be consoled and strengthened by his lofty achievements.
We also highly appreciate and commend the excellent manner in which the government of South Africa, through the leadership of H.E. Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, has handled the late Mandela's hospitalisation, medical treatment and the procedures put in place for his state funeral.
We as SADC, will observe a seven-day mourning period until 15th December, 2013, when our hero will be laid to rest. During this period, all flags in Member States will be flown at half-mast, and we hereby also declare 15th December, 2013 as an official SADC mourning day.