Mbeki greets Mandela on his 89th birthday

Johannesburg- South Africa (PANA) -- South African President Thabo Mbeki is among hundreds of people who have conveyed birthday wishes to former President Nelson Mandela, who turned 89 Wednesday (today).
President Mbeki said Mandela inspired South Africa, the continent and the rest of humanity through his life, his leadership, and his resolute and deep-seated commitment to the struggle against apartheid and for a just and democratic society.
"The country and the world are privileged to celebrate the life of such an outstanding leader of our people," Mbeki said.
He recalled the former South African President's statement from the dock at his Rivonia Trial in 1964, when he (Mandela) said: "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.
I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.
"It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve.
But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
" Mbeki said the celebration of Mandela's birthday should serve as an occasion "to rededicate ourselves to the ideals and values for which he has stood and continues to uphold.
" President Mbeki also welcomed the FIFA-organised match in Mandela's honour as "a fitting tribute to a deserving elder.
" Brazilian football legend, Pelé, three-time African player of the year Samuel Eto'o and former Dutch international Ruud Gulit are among those scheduled to play.
In its own message, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) Parliamentary Caucus said Mandela's sacrifices in the struggle for the national liberation and his exemplary leadership as head of state and the government of National Unity of South Africa had become important landmarks in the transformation of the country.
"The African National Congress Caucus takes this opportunity to celebrate together with the millions in our country and abroad, a life spent in the pursuit of the ideals of freedom, democracy and social justice," it said.
Leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance, Helen Zille, said it was a cause for celebration "that South Africa's greatest living statesman, the man who inspired the country's democracy into being, is around to enjoy his 89th birthday with the millions of South Africans who love him so dearly".
"Amidst the many troubles that beset and divide us as South Africans, what a great pleasure it is to unite with all who love our country and say 'happy birthday, Madiba'," Zille said.

18 july 2007 09:58:00




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