Zuma to unveil Mandela statue

The newly installed statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela is seen in front of the South African Embassy on December 5, 2013, in Washington, DC. Mandela succumbed to a recurrent lung infection on Thursday. He was 95. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards

President Jacob Zuma will unveil a nine-metre high bronze statue of former president Nelson Mandela at the Union Buildings, in Pretoria, next week, the government said on Thursday.

“The unveiling of the statue on December 16 [Monday] is intended as acknowledgement of the contribution of the first president of a democratic South Africa, a symbol of national reconciliation and unity,” the arts and culture department said in a statement.

“Hopefully, it will become a site of pilgrimage for domestic and international visitors.”

The area around where the statue would be erected at the Union Buildings was cordoned-off on Thursday afternoon, with a fence covered in blue plastic.

Workers could be seen welding the feet of the statue as it lay face down on the ground, on the lawn in front of the building.

A small construction crane was inside the cordoned-off area. A worker said the statue was expected to be erected on Friday.

Monday, which is the Day of Reconciliation, also marks the commemoration of the centenary of the Union Buildings.

“The installation of Tata Madiba’s statue at the Union Buildings is part of the department’s… ongoing work to develop new symbols and monuments that reflect our collective aspirations as South Africans and the new values we stand for,” the department said.

Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, last Thursday, at the age of 95. An official memorial service was held at FNB stadium, in Soweto, on Tuesday.

His body has been lying in state at the Union Buildings since Wednesday. He will be buried at Qunu, in the Eastern Cape, on Sunday.
Zuma said at the memorial service on Tuesday that the amphitheatre at the Union Buildings would be renamed the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre in his honour.


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