Cape Town -

The bust of former president Nelson Mandela unveiled at Parliament on Monday shows how far South Africa's democracy has come in a short space of time, President Jacob Zuma said.

Not many years ago it would have been unthinkable, because under apartheid Mandela was considered an enemy of the state.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony and launch of the 20 years of a democratic Parliament programme, Zuma said Parliament would continue to promote Mandela's legacy.

“By unveiling the statue, Parliament has declared we will continue to walk in Madiba's footsteps... and honour his legacy.”

Zuma also paid tribute to former president FW de Klerk, who formed part of the unveiling ceremony.

“Through him we were able to make a breakthrough to create the conditions for our new democracy.”

As the last president of apartheid South Africa, De Klerk had put the country first, and had played a pivotal role in averting a disaster in South Africa, he said.

Zuma urged South Africans to celebrate democracy and freedom by voting for the party of their choice in the May 7 general election.

Guests invited to the unveiling included Mandela family members, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, South Africa’s first democratically elected National Assembly Speaker Frene Ginwala, Cabinet ministers and deputy ministers, provincial premiers, mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille, members of the diplomatic corps and civil society organisations’ representatives.

According to a statement issued by Parliament, the bust - in bronze on a granite plinth - depicts Mandela smiling slightly and looking out over Stalplein to the Parliament gates leading to Plein Street, opposite the steps of the National Assembly building.

It is large enough to be seen from Plein Street - 2.28 metres high when placed on its plinth - but does not dominate the space.

“It is hoped that the bust will provide a place for people to gather when they visit Parliament and that it will inspire public memory about the long and bitter road we have travelled to democracy and what still remains to be achieved,” it said. - Sapa