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Parliament to hold special Mandela session

Former South African President Nelson Mandela wears a cap presented to him by the cast of the Oscar-winning film "Tsotsi" at his home in Cape Town in this March 16, 2006 file photo. Mandela has passed away on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/Files

Former South African President Nelson Mandela wears a cap presented to him by the cast of the Oscar-winning film "Tsotsi" at his home in Cape Town in this March 16, 2006 file photo. Mandela has passed away on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/Files

Published Dec 6, 2013

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Cape Town - A joint sitting of Parliament's two houses will be convened in the wake of the death of South Africa's first democratically elected president, it was announced on Friday.

“A joint sitting of the two houses of Parliament, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces is to be held on Monday, December 9, to honour and commemorate former president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela,” the national legislature said in a statement.

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The sitting of MPs was to start at 2pm.

“The passing of an iconic world statesman, a political, moral and intellectual colossus of Madiba's stature more than justifies the convening of a special sitting of Parliament, even during recess,” Parliament's presiding officers said.

“Additional spaces will be identified within Parliament to accommodate members of the public who wish to be part of this extraordinary session,” the national legislature said.

Flags at Parliament are currently flying at half mast, and books of condolences will be opened at various spots within the precinct.

To commemorate Mandela's legacy a special exhibition of photographs will be mounted in the precinct.

Earlier, National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu said a pall hung over Parliament.

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“(A) real pain chills all who work in (Parliament's) precinct,” he said in a statement.

“It is a pain we share with millions of people throughout our land, our continent Africa, and beyond.”

After Mandela's release from prison in February 1990, he promised during his first address at the Cape Town City Hall to place the remaining years of his life in the hands of the people.

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It was a promise he fulfilled in a myriad of ways, Sisulu said.

“It is a promise, to which we, the elected representatives of the people, must recommit ourselves, if our mourning today is not to be reduced to mere maudlin.

“To our great hero, the icon of humility, selflessness and forgiveness, the world's very symbol of humanity, to you Madiba, we say, go well dear father, comrade, and friend,” he said.

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Parliament sent its condolences to Mandela's widow Graca Machel, his family, and friends.

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