Birthday wishes are continuing to pour in for former President Nelson Mandela who is marking his 95th birthday today.
There is a sense of unity, pride and celebration countrywide, as South Africans from all walks of life, prepare to pay tribute to their national treasure today.
In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared July 18 as Nelson Mandela International Day, dedicated to the former President’s commitment to human rights, conflict resolution and reconciliation.
South Africans are called to observe the day by giving at least 67 minutes of their time on July 18 to create a better tomorrow for all. The day is dedicated to Madiba’s work and that of his charitable organisations, as part of ensuring that his legacy lives on.
Madiba is expected to spend his birthday with his family at the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital. He was admitted to the hospital on 8 June for a recurring lung infection.
Members of the public have visited the hospital to drop off cards and wish the former statesmen well.
The theme for Mandela Day 2013 is “Take action; inspire change; make every day a Mandela Day” with a focus on food security, shelter and literacy.
Learners from schools across the country will hold a special assembly and sing a special “Happy Birthday” song to Madiba at 8am. They will then have a prayer. Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, has called on all radio and television stations to play the “Happy Birthday” song at 8am. It is available for download on www.leadsa.co.za.
The President himself will roll up his sleeves today to launch a new low cost settlement in Danville, Pretoria West, which is home to low-income black and white families.
The Danville/Elandspoort settlement will house families that used to reside at the Bethlehem Informal Settlement in Pretoria West which was occupied by poor white families as well as families residing in Road Reserves in the Atteridgeville area and other areas in the Pretoria Central and Pretoria West areas.
The launch of a non-racial settlement pays tribute to former President Mandela who laid a firm foundation for nation building, reconciliation and a new South Africa where all citizens live equally side by side.
Acting GCIS Chief Executive Officer, Phumla Williams, said recently that Madiba has made an indelible mark on our society, having overseen the transition from apartheid to a society built on the pillars of democracy and freedom.
“To celebrate Mandela Month, South Africans need to uphold Madiba’s ideals, including his unwavering commitment to justice, equality and a non-racial South Africa… Let us heed to the call of President Jacob Zuma, and ‘make it the biggest Mandela Day ever,” said Williams.
Today will also see the official launch of the new Smart ID Card by the Home Affairs Minister, Naledi Pandor. The new card has top security features, including features on the card body such as holograms, laser engraving and personal details and logical security features which include fingerprint biometrics and biographic data which is embedded on the 80 kilobytes card chip.
The department is in the process of preparing 27 regional offices which will be the first to issue the new card.
In addition to the numerous events being held across the country, Cabinet ministers will exchange their formal suits for overalls.
Public Works Minister, Thulas Nxesi, will spend his Mandela Day at the Tshwane Leadership Foundation which is a non-profit organisation working with the indigent, homeless, women in crises and girls at risk, vulnerable children and youth inner city communities. Correctional Services Minister, Sibusiso Ndebele, will visit an orphanage and child-headed home in Soweto.
The Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, will kickstart his 67 minutes with a visit to Witbank Hospital, then paint classrooms at Mmagobana Primary School in Thushanang township. A cleanup campaign in Brits in the North West will be led by Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa. Sport and Recreation Minister, Fikile Mbalula, will be visiting Eldorado Park to hand over sporting gear and equipment to 10 identified primary and secondary schools.
Several events are planned in and around Madiba’s birthplace of Mvezo.
The Nkosi Dalibhubga Mandela Legacy Bridge has been completed and will be handed over the Mvezo community. The bridge built over the Mbashe River, links Ludondolo village with Mvezo bringing economic and tourism opportunities to the area.
The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, yesterday handed over the Mandela Park Primary School to the Slova Park community in Mthatha. The school, which was sponsored by ArcelorMittal South Africa at a cost of R45 Million, boasts top of the range equipment and facilities.
The Department of Basic Education has launched a campaign called 94+ Projects for Madiba to celebrate his birthday and legacy. The campaign aims to improve infrastructure in over 94 schools to become state-of-the-art institutions of quality learning.
Earlier this week, Public Service and Administration Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, donated R1 million worth of computers to disadvantaged learners from Alexandria Primary School and Ukhanyo Secondary School in Alexandria, Port Alfred.
Next month will see the Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day at the FNB stadium. On Saturday, 17 August, South Africans will watch both rugby and football teams playing against their opponents at the same venue. There will also be cultural activities and a music concert later on the day.