“He is one among many who had courage and bravery, who fought for our freedom and liberation side by side with masses of our people,” said African National Congress spokesman Zizi Kodwa.
“His contribution to human dignity, against all forms of discrimination will never be forgotten.”
Kodwa said South Africa enjoyed peace and stability today because of Tutu’s contribution to the fight against apartheid.
Tutu, 83, received the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1984.
He was supposed to have attended the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit in Rome this week, but has cancelled all travel plans for the rest of the year for health reasons.
Read more: Tutu cancels travel for health reasons
The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said on Tuesday that he was starting a new course of medication to manage the prostate cancer he has lived with for the past 15 years.
The ANC and Tutu have been at odds over a number of issues in the past few years.
Last year, in an opinion piece carried by the Mail&Guardian, Tutu said he would not vote for the ANC in the 2014 general elections.
“I have voted for the ANC, but I would very sadly not be able to vote for them after the way things have gone.”
He said there was need for change in the country.
Tutu has criticised the ANC-led government about the multi-million rand upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s home at Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal, the state of education in the country, and poverty.
Earlier this year, Tutu reportedly said he was glad former president Nelson Mandela was not alive to witness the slow pace of transformation in South Africa.
Tutu reiterated that he no longer supported the ANC’s leadership as he did when he first voted on April 27, 1994.
“I have sought to support a party that would be as close as possible to the sorts of things we would love to see. On the whole the ANC was that. Have you noticed the past tense?” Tutu asked.