29 April 2014
The unveiling of the bust of a smiling Nelson Mandela outside the National Assembly in Cape Town underscored Parliament’s commitment to uphold the legacy of the former statesman, President Jacob Zuma said on Monday.
Zuma unveiled the 2.28 metre-high statue of former president Mandela on Monday as part of the country’s Freedom Day celebrations, marking 20 years of democracy. Mandela, who passed away in December last year, was South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
The bronze bust on a granite plinth is opposite the steps of the National Assembly in Cape Town, and has Mandela looking towards the gates of Parliament. Zuma also used the occasion to launch the 20 Years of a Democratic Parliament programme.
‘In Tata’s footsteps’
The statue showed how far South Africa’s democracy had come: “The unveiling of this bust confirms that our Parliament, which was once a symbol of white domination, has now been transformed into a progressive institution that upholds the values of unity, equality, freedom and the dignity of all South Africans,” said Zuma.
“By unveiling this statue, Parliament is declaring that we will continue to walk in Tata’s footsteps, that we will continue to draw lessons and inspiration from his exemplary life and that we will continue to honour his memory,” he said.
Zuma paid tribute to former president FW de Klerk, who was at the unveiling. As the last president of apartheid South Africa, De Klerk had put the country first and had played a pivotal role in averting a disaster in South Africa, Zuma said.
“Through him we were able to make a breakthrough to create the conditions for our new democracy.”
Zuma also used the occasion to urge South Africans to vote in the general election, which will be held on 7 May.
“May the spirit of Tata Madiba continue to inspire us all as we continue to build a truly non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa, one nation, and one people . we urge our people to come out in their millions to celebrate democracy and freedom by casting their votes.”
The unveiling ceremony, which was attended by the Mandela family members, was followed by a mass thanksgiving and prayer meeting at the Good Hope Centre.