Pretoria — President Jacob Zuma has paid tribute to former President Nelson Mandela, unveiling his statue in Mangaung on Thursday.
The statue, which is 7 metres high, stands above the landscape overlooking Mangaung.
The erection of the statue forms part of government's programmes to honour the heroes and heroines of the country struggle for liberation.
"The statue is our efforts to strengthen reconciliation, nation building, social cohesion and national healing that Madiba always stood for in all his life. It is also part of efforts to build new symbols of our democratic nation, symbols that make it possible for us as South Africans to celebrate our diversity, our common heritage and our shared future," Zuma said.
He said by erecting the statue, the state also paid tribute to "those stalwarts, who by staying firm in the face of adversity, endowed the freedom struggle with heightened sense of commitment and sacrifice never seen before".
"This statue of the first President of a democratic South Africa, reminds us, as it faces towards Mangaung, of the path that we as South Africans have traveled in our struggle to be free," Zuma said.
It stood as a tribute to a "tortuous path" South Africa had travelled from oppression, through the struggle for liberation, to its democracy in 1994.
Other related projects included the completion of the Phase 2 of the JL Dube Legacy Project.
It includes the restoration of JL Dube's house into an interpretative centre, the development and mounting of an exhibition which celebrates his tremendous contribution to society.
In addition three Presidential Buildings were renamed, Kings House in Durban is now Dr J L Dube House, the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria has been renamed S M Makgatho and the Diplomatic Guest House in Pretoria will be renamed Johnny Makhathini next year.
Earlier in the day, Zuma unveiled the plaque of the renamed Bloemfontein International Airport to the Bram Fischer International Airport.