Give back on Mandela Day, says Zuma
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President Jacob Zuma said former president Nelson Mandela's birthday on Thursday should be focused on his legacy and he encouraged people to dedicate 67 minutes of their time to nation-building.
“On Madiba's 95th birthday, all our thoughts are focused on the rich legacy he has given us as South Africans and the world,” Zuma said.
“Let us return Madiba's sacrifices and contributions through our own efforts to build a better society. Make every day a Mandela day.”
He wished South Africans and the world a productive reconciliatory and reconstructive Mandela Day.
In 2009, July 18 was declared as Mandela Day in South Africa to honour the former statesman.
The United Nations declared July 18, as International Nelson Mandela Day.
Meanwhile, Mandela will be amongst the first recipients of the Smart ID card launched in Pretoria on Thursday.
His daughter Zindzi Mandela would receive the card on his behalf at the Union Buildings, home affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said.
Former president FW de Klerk said Mandela was approaching the end of a long walk that began in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape.
“Today should be a time for quiet and respectful contemplation - and not for unseemly squabbling over the ownership of Mr Mandela's heritage,” he said.
“Nelson Mandela's place in South Africa's history is assured. His legacy of courage, perseverance and magnanimity will continue to inspire us - and people throughout the world - for generations to come.”
The SA Human Rights Commission wished Mandela a speedy recovery from a recurring lung infection, after he was admitted to a Pretoria hospital on June 8.
“As he celebrates his 95th birthday, his words and deeds become increasingly relevant to the rest of us,” spokesman Isaac Mangena said.
“His teachings will guide generations to come and will forever remain in the hearts and minds of everyone, young and old, black and white, rich and poor.”
Parliament urged South Africans to keep Mandela and his family in their prayers and said people should “live his teachings” and take on the responsibility to change the world for the better.
“In sickness and in health Madiba continues to unite our nation, he brings us together in an extraordinary way and helps us realise the value of coexistence,” it said in a statement.
“The kind of unity he bequeathed to us brings about so much hope for humanity.”
The African National Congress said Mandela's birthday presented an opportunity to reflect on his life, sacrifices and the role he still occupied.
“Comrade Nelson Mandela continues to be an inspiration and a beacon of hope to the African National Congress, the people of South Africa and the world,” spokesman Jackson Mthembu said.
“His life remains inextricably linked to the struggle of the people of South Africa for freedom, liberty and dignity.”
Various political parties, governmental departments, organisations and people have events planned across the country in honour of Mandela Day. - Sapa