Media Statement on the National Orders Ceremony

President Thabo Mbeki will bestow South Africa's highest awards to citizens and eminent foreign nationals for distinguished and exceptional conduct at the National Orders Ceremony to be held at the Union Buildings in Tshwane on 26 April 2005 at 10H00.

This ceremony will be the fifth since the adoption of the new system of National Orders which marked the country's symbolic break with the history of racial segregation and oppression.

Following the adoption of the new National Flag in 1994, the unveiling of the new Coat of Arms in 2000 and the new National Anthem, the adoption of the new National Orders affirmed further the nation's commitment to a new humanism free from all forms of marginalization, be they on the basis of race, gender and/or other divisive notions of power.

The first ceremony of National Orders was held on 10 December 2002 at the Union Buildings, at which the first awards for the Order of Mapungubwe, the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo and the Order of the Baobab were bestowed. This was followed by the ceremonies held on 2 December 2003, 16 June 2004 and 29 October 2004.

The Orders to be bestowed at the April 2005 Award Ceremony are the following:

  • The Order of Mapungubwe, which is awarded to South African citizens for achievements that have impacted internationally and served the interests of the Republic;
  • The Order of the Baobab, which is goes to South African citizens for distinguished service in the fields of business, the economy, science, medicine, technological innovation and community service;
  • The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo, meant for eminent foreign nationals and other foreign dignitaries for friendship shown to South Africa; and
  • The Order of Luthuli, reserved for South African citizens who have served the interest of South Africa by making a meaningful contribution in areas such as the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice, peace and conflict resolution.

Also, this year's Award Ceremony will be commemorated by the South African Post Office which will issue, on 26 April 2005, a set of six stamps depicting South Africa's National Orders.

This prestigious event also takes place on the eve of South Africa's celebration of Freedom Day, on 27 April 2005. This fact, coupled with the careful selection of recipients, both black and white, across the gender-divide, thus expresses symbolically the government's commitment to the building of a South Africa that truly belongs to all.

Amongst the twenty-six recipients, John Langalibalele Dube and Anton Lembede are honoured for the precious lives they gave selflessly to the noble struggle for the freedoms that are now indelibly enshrined in the Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of South, Act 108 of 1996.

Urbania Bebe Mothopeng is one of the finest daughters of South Africa's struggle for social change who distinguished themselves by contributing to the empowerment and upliftment of women.

End

For more information you may call David Hlabane on 082 561 9428.

Issued by The Presidency on 21 April 2005.
Union Buildings
Tshwane
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