18 July 2013

South Africa: Mandela Making Remarkable Progress - Zindzi

Photo: GCIS
People leaving flowers and messages of support for former president Nelson Mandela at Medi-Clinic in Pretoria.

Pretoria — Former president Nelson Mandela is making a remarkable recovery in hospital, his daughter Zindzi Mandela-Motlhajwa said on Thursday.

"I would like to assure you, though I may not be a medical doctor, that Tata is making remarkable progress and we look forward to having him back at home soon," she said.

"I often tease him, saying 'our father who art in Houghton'. We would like to have him there [in Houghton], not in hospital."

She was speaking at the Union Buildings, in Pretoria, after being handed a replica of Mandela's smart ID card by former president Thabo Mbeki.

"It's such an honour to receive this historical gift on behalf of Tata. I admire him not only as my father, but as my comrade and my leader for the courageous fight he was part of with the [African National Congress] against the unjust pass laws."

"Today marks this historic event in terms of the recognition of our citizenship and the restoration of the dignity of the majority of our people who were denied and stripped of this dignity," she said.

The home affairs department issued Mandela's a smart ID card, as the ailing statesman celebrated his 95th birthday on Thursday.

Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor said the transformation from the ID book to the high tech ID card was symbolic of South Africa's expedition in the democratic dispensation.

"Today we reach another milestone in the process of restoring dignity to South African citizens. Today we begin the process of replacing the ID books with the smart ID cards, which are symbolic of our liberation," she said.

Pandor said the first smart cards would be issued to eminent people such as President Jacob Zuma, Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, his wife Graca Machel, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and Mbeki.

Other recipients of the first batch of cards would be Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, former president FW de Klerk, and struggle veterans Sophie de Bruyn, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada and Dennis Goldberg.

Pandor said other recipients would include aged South Africans, some of them 100-years-old.

"The ID smart card is a way of affirming citizenship and using digital technology to protect the integrity of our identity as South Africans. It was here at the Union Building on May 10 in 1994 that [former] president Mandela became the first president of a democratic South Africa.

"We wish our founding president an extremely happy birthday," she said.

Mandela has spent the past 41 days in the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital, in Pretoria.

On Thursday, the presidency said his health was "steadily improving".

"Madiba remains in hospital in Pretoria, but his doctors have confirmed that his health is steadily improving," spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement.

Until now, his condition has been described as critical but stable.

"On behalf of government and all the people of South Africa, we wish Madiba a joyous 95th birthday," Zuma said.

"We are proud to call this international icon our own as South Africans and wish him good health."

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