Pretoria – South Africa is mourning with the people of Iran following the passing of their former President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Rafsanjani, who served as President from 1989 to 1997, was pivotal to Iranian politics and that country’s revolution.
He passed away on Sunday in a hospital in Tehran after suffering a heart attack. He was 82 years.
President Jacob Zuma on Monday described him a selfless leader, who served the people of Iran.
He said South Africa shares the loss of the Iranian people and stands with them in this time of grief and mourning.
“South Africa acknowledges President Rafsanjani’s pioneering spirit in establishing stronger trade and political ties with African countries and South Africa in particular during his term as the President of Iran,” said President Zuma.
South Africa views Iran as a strategic trading partner within the Middle East and Central Asian regions.
In the bilateral sphere, the two countries share a long historical relationship, with Iran having stood with and supported the struggle for liberation in South Africa. South Africa has also stood with Iran in the face of unilaterally imposed sanctions.
While the countries have maintained good relations over the years, total trade has unfortunately been falling over the past decade owing to, amongst others, the non-existence of banking relations between them and the various sanctions imposed by the West.
As of 2015, total trade between the two countries stood at R358 million.