Remarks by His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma, at the National Orders Awards Ceremony, Sefako Mapogo Makgatho Presidential Guest House, Pretoria
The Deputy President of the Republic, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe
Former Deputy President of the Republic, Ms Baleka Mbethe,
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Max Sisulu,
The Chairperson of the NCOP, Mr Mahlangu,
The Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic, Hon Justice Dikgang Moseneke,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Deputy Chairperson of the National Planning Commission and Deputy President of the ANC, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa
Premiers, MECs, MPs and MPLs,
The distinguished recipients of the National Orders and members of their families,
Friends from around the world,
Fellow South Africans,
It is a distinct privilege for us to celebrate 20 years of freedom with you this afternoon.
Twenty years ago, this nation turned its back on apartheid colonialism, statutory racism, hatred and divisions.
After his historic first time ever vote at Inanda on 27 April 1994, the late former President Nelson Mandela outlined the future of our country.
He said; "We are starting a new era of hope, reconciliation and nation building''.
We began the journey of building a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. When we look back today, we are filled with immense pride and a sense of achievement.
Working together, we have achieved a successful transition to a new society and have built a new nation out of the ashes of apartheid divisions.
We thank all our international guests for your contribution to the achievement of freedom and democracy in our country.
We thank all South Africans for making their country a much better place to live in since the dawn of freedom.
The National Orders Ceremony has a distinct importance in our country. We honour men and women who have left definitive footprints in both the struggle for liberation and also in building a better South Africa.
The National Orders also celebrate human achievement in various fields. The Orders are thus a moment of great reflection, celebration and pride.
Today we honour compatriots whose contribution puts the country in the global map be it in sports, the arts, business, science and through humanitarian acts.
The Order of Mendi for Bravery is awarded to South African citizens who have performed extraordinary acts of bravery to save others.
In this category, we honour Elizabeth Barrett for saving 14 children from a burning house.
We also dedicate this award to heroes of our struggle for freedom, Russel Maphanga, Indres Naidoo, Reggie Vandeyar and Sirish Nanabhai.
Messrs Naidoo, Vandeyar and Nanabhai were also among the first in the Indian community to be arrested for Mkhonto Wesizwe activities in the then Transvaal.
The Order of Ikhamanga is awarded to South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport, and it is also conferred in various categories.
In this class we honour our celebrated athlete Mokgadi Caster Semenya, who stood firm and resolute against prejudice and went on to become an Olympic gold medalist.
We also honour the accomplished swimmer and Olympic gold medalist, Cameron Van Der Bergh.
We also recognise paralympian Fanie Van Der Merwe, and tennis player Lucas Sithole, for proving that it is possible to reach the greatest heights despite disabilities.
We also honour the famous soccer legend, Matsilele Jomo Sono for his contribution to the development of football in our country. He has excelled as a gifted player, as a coach and a mentor who takes efforts to unearth youth soccer talent.
In this category, we also recognise celebrated author Zakes Mda, the poet, diplomat and struggle veteran Lindiwe Mabuza, music promoter Rashid Lombard, music maestro Victor Ntoni and actress Sandra Prinsloo. Their accomplishments are inspirational.
We welcome the recipients of the Order of the Baobab, which is awarded to South African citizens for distinguished service in the fields of business and the economy, science, medicine and technological innovation and community service.
This award is conferred to Ms Tshepo Khumbane, social worker and community development activist and to Abraham September, a pioneer of an irrigation scheme along the Orange River in Upington in the 19th century.
We are also pleased to confer the award to accomplished businesspersons, Mr Raymond Ackerman known for fighting for consumer rights during the apartheid era and Mr Chris Ball, a distinguished banker who participated positively in the transition to democracy.
We also honour Dr Alex Boraine, who played a key role in the country's truth and reconciliation process. We recognise the late Dr Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, a courageous patriot known for encouraging dialogue between opposing South African groups to bring us together.
Ms Katrina Esau and Mr David Kruiper are honoured in this category for preserving the endangered culture and language of the San people.
We award the Order of Luthuli to South Africans who have made a meaningful contribution to the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice, peace and conflict resolution.
We are honoured to confer this award to eminent veterans of the liberation struggle. We pay tribute to the late Ms Ruth First, who was killed by apartheid agents through a parcel bomb.
We honour one of the key ANC Youth League pioneers in the 1940s, Mr David Bopape, as well as struggle veterans, Ms Florence Matomela, Francis Baard and Sir Bob Hepple.
We honour distinguished veterans such as the former Minister of Social Development and former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr Zola Skweyiya, the former Executive Mayor of Tshwane, Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, Former North West Premier, Mr Popo Molefe, the late leader of the Pan-Africanist Congress Mr Zephania Mothopeng, and our veterans Mittah Seperepere, Agnes Msimang, Jeannete Schoon, and Abdhulhay Jassat.
The late Mr Wolfie Kodesh, a journalist who, together with Ms Ruth First exposed the appalling working conditions of farm workers in the Eastern Transvaal is also recognised posthumously for this award.
The Order of Mapungubwe is awarded to South African citizens for excellence in science and technology.
In this category we honour Namrita Lall, Mr Ismail Mohamed, Mr Simon Schaaf, Mr David Barry Schoub and Mr William Soga for their immense contribution to knowledge and science.
We take immense pride in handing out the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo, which is awarded to members of the international community for promoting peace, co-operation and friendship towards South Africa and her people.
Most importantly, this award recognizes men and women from around the world who were in the trenches with us, fighting to end apartheid colonialism in our country.
Today we acknowledge the role of musicians, film directors, actors and other international citizens, who used their craft to promote justice, freedom and human dignity and to expose the apartheid state.
In this category today we recognise Lord Richard Attenborough, Gwendolen Carter (Posthumous), actor Danny Glover, musician Quincy Jones, music promoter Jerry Dammers, former UK Labour Party leader Lord Neil Kinnock, freedom fighter Mr Alex Moumabaris and fighter for social justice Ms Alfre Woodard.
We pay tribute to Ms Ruth Neto of Angola for fighting for the liberation of Southern Africa and for promoting the empowerment of African women.
As we mark 20 years of freedom, we fondly remember the landmark and historic music concert honouring Madiba in London, which was organised by Mr Jerry Dammers.
We also confer the Companions of OR Tambo Award to Mr Thomas Karis who wrote volumes on the history of our struggle.
To all the recipients of the Companions of OR Tambo Award, we would like to give you a message from the former ANC President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Chief Albert Luthuli, delivering the Nobel Peace Prize lecture in 1961.
He said; "Alone we would have been weak. Our heartfelt appreciation of your acts of support for us, we cannot adequately express, nor can we ever forget; now or in the future when victory is behind us''.
Indeed we shall never forget the solidarity we received from brothers and sisters in the continent and the world.
In Madiba's words uttered at the London concert, we thank you that you chose to care.
We commend all the nominees for the various categories.
By the power vested upon me in terms of Section 84 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, I now confer the Order of Mendi, the Order of Ikhamanga, the Order of the Baobab, the Order of Luthuli, the Order of Mapungubwe and the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo to these distinguished persons.
And they shall henceforth be honoured as esteemed Members of the Orders.
I Thank You!
Issued by: The Presidency