Pretoria - The Union Buildings in Pretoria have been added to the list of national heritage sites, President Jacob Zuma said on Monday.
“As we celebrate 100 years of the Union Buildings today, we do so satisfied and happy that this seat of government is now not only rich in terms of its aesthetic beauty only,” he said at the annual Reconciliation Day celebrations at the seat of government in Pretoria.
“It is also rich in moral value and symbolism as well. Given its growing national importance, we have decided to declare the Union Buildings a national heritage site. It had all along been a provincial heritage site.”
Zuma addressed the Reconciliation Day commemorations shortly after unveiling a nine-metre bronze-plated statue of a smiling former president Nelson Mandela.
“We are happy that we are here. You will notice that in all the statues that have been made of Madiba, he is raising his fist... That derives from the slogan of the ANC,” Zuma said.
“This one is different from many. He is stretching out his hands. He is embracing the whole nation.”
The R8 million bronze-plated statue was created by South African sculptors Andre Prinsloo and Ruhan Janse van Vuuren. It is close to the Union Buildings' lawns, overlooking Arcadia.
Zuma thanked South Africans, the media, SA National Defence Force and the inter-ministerial committee for state funerals, chaired by Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, for contributing to a dignified farewell for Mandela. He was buried in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on Sunday.
“The military health services had first touched the nation in the manner in which they looked after him while he was ill. And later, the SANDF put out all stops to give him a befitting farewell. We also thank the media, both locally and internationally, for taking the Madiba story to the world with dignity and respect,” he said.
“Working together the rainbow nation ensured that Tata is laid to rest in a manner befitting a global icon.”
Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, aged 95, on December 5.