Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma conferred National Orders on several prominent South African citizens and eminent foreign nationals during a ceremony in Pretoria on Tuesday.
During the ceremony, Zuma remarked how significant it was that the awards took place during Reconciliation Month, a month of nation building in South Africa.
He said each individual who received an award had made a significant contribution to advancing South Africa’s democracy and made a positive impact in their respective fields across South African society.
These people “embody the spirit of excellence that is necessary for our country to advance and prosper”.
“The Orders are a moment of great reflection, celebration and pride for our people. They celebrate human achievement, human sacrifice and human endeavours that make our country a better place,” he said.
Zuma said each recipient had “contributed to the upliftment of humanity”.
The Order of Mendi went to South Africans who had performed acts of bravery. The recipients of this order were: Jetro Ndlovu, a veteran of the former liberation army uMkhonto Wesizwe and a former Robben Island prisoner; the late Joe Morolong who was a former Robben Island prisoner, trialist in the first Treason Trial, one of the Freedom Charter drafters, and a trad unionist and activist; and Eric Mtshali, an uMkhonto Wesizwe founding member and founding member of the African National Congress’ intelligence unit in exile.
The Order of Mendi was awarded posthumously to freedom fighter Caleb Motshabi and Mpumelelo Washington Bongco, a political activist who was executed.
Zuma said: “These were the committed compatriots on whose shoulders the subsequent generations stood to advance freedom and equality in this country.”
The Order of Ikhamanga, which honours South Africans who excelled in arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sports was bestowed on Themba Magaisa a Xitsonga writer whose work ensured the language survived; Winnie Busisiwe Mahlangu, the first woman announcer in the SABC’s then Radio Bantu/Radio Zulu which is now Ukhozi FM; and musician John Mekoa who estabilished the Music Academy of Gauteng.
The order was awarded posthumously to boxer and soccer player Darius Dhlomo who became the second South African to play in a European football league; Professor Mbulelo Mzamane, who became the first post apartheid Vice-Chancellor of Fort Hare University; and to Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, an athlete and Olympic medallist.
Zuma said that the Order of the Baobab was awarded to South Africans for “distinguished service in the fields of business and economy, science, medicine, technologial innovation and community service.”
Recipients were Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, who was one of the first constitutional court judges; Douglas Anderson for his commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities; Dr Andrew Ross for his commitment to funding and mentoring medical students through the Umthombo Youth Development Foundation; Otto Stehlik, founder and owner of the Protea Hospitality Group, for his role as a pioneer in the industry, and Professor Emeritus James David Lewis-Williams for his contribution in preserving the country’s rock art, especially San rock art.
The order was awarded posthumously to Dr Mary Susan Malahlela for her tireless service and provision of essential medical services in the Kliptown, Mofolo and Dobsonville areas in Gauteng.
The Order of Luthuli went to South Africans who have served the country through meaningful contribution through a “struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice, peace and conflict resolution”.
Zuma conferred this award on trade unionist and ANC veteran Kay Moonsamy; William Henry Frankel for providing essential legal services and assistance to anti-apartheid activist on trial; former Robben Island prisoner and anti-apartheid activist John Malcomess Mgabela and Mohammed Tickly, former Secretary of the ANC’s Education Committee for his contribution to educating ANC cadres in Tanzania.
The husband and wife team and anti-apartheid activists Petrus Nyawose and Jabulile Nyawose were honoured posthumously for their work.
Zuma said The Order of the Companions of Oliver Tambo was awarded to foreign nationals who “actively promoted the freedom, justice, human rights and democracy” of South Africa beyond its borders.
Recipients were Honourable Brian Mulroney, former Canada Prime minister; Professor Gareth Evans, former Australia Foreign Minister; British Labour member of parliament Peter Hain; Russian ambassador Vladimir Kazimirov; Russian diplomat and historian Professor Andre Yurievich Urnov; Danish architect Lars Nordbo; Malaysian entrepreneur and communication strategist Tan Sri Dr Lim Kok Wing; and American Professor Gay McDougall who helped Nelson Mandela to cast his ballot during the 1994 elections.
Tanzania’s late General Hashim Mbita was also honoured with a posthumous award.
Zuma, in closing the awards ceremony, concluded: “We salute all our recipients. All have contributed to building a better South Africa, a better Africa and a better world.”