Pretoria - Former president Nelson Mandela was able to balance being a great thinker and a great doer in his political life, president Jacob Zuma said in Pretoria on Saturday.
“So many things have been said about Madiba because he has done so many things; he has distinguished himself so many times in every way you can think of,” Zuma said at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, from where Mandela's body would be flown to the Eastern Cape.
“He [Mandela] combined two things that are not easy to do - to combine theory and practice. He did it more than many [times].”
Zuma called Mandela “a man of action” and praised him for thinking about policy.
Zuma also berated politicians who might use Nelson Mandela's death to try and settle scores.
"Comrades, I would be very happy that as we mourn and celebrate Madiba, we do not abuse his name," he said.
We should not think that Madiba's passing is a time for settling scores," Zuma said at an ANC ceremony before Mandela's body would be flown to the Eastern Cape for his state funeral on Sunday.
"(If you try settle scores), it means you do not understand Madiba and you will never understand him, because he was a man of honesty."
ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, and former president Thabo Mbeki were in the audience, along with struggle stalwarts Frene Ginwala, Ahmed Kathrada, Mac Maharaj, and Barbara Hogan.
Throughout the special ANC tribute ceremony various groups of guests, such as representatives from the ANC Women's League, school children, and an eloquence of lawyers got up and stood by Mandela's coffin for a few moments.
Musician Zahara performed along with poet Mzwakhe Mbuli. The audience sang revolutionary songs. A choir sang Ave Maria and the National Anthem.
Dozens of political parties from around the world were represented at the ceremony. - Sapa