Nelson Mandela Statue For Union Buildings

Johannesburg - Government will honour former President Nelson Mandela by erecting a golden statue of Madiba at the Union Buildings.

The gesture forms part of marking the 100th anniversary of the most iconic structure in the capital city of Pretoria.

The announcement was made by Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile at the New Age/SABC business briefing in Sandton, north of Johannesburg, on Tuesday.

"Work is at an advance stage to erect a statute of Tata Madiba at the Union Buildings as part of its centenary celebrations this year.

"Over the past week, we received good news that the founding father of our nation, former President Nelson Mandela, was discharged from hospital.

"We take this opportunity once again to wish Tata Madiba well as he recovers from home. Even in sickness, Tata Madiba continues to unite our nation and remains an enjoining symbol of our freedom and democracy," he said.

To deepen Madiba's legacy, on August 18, the department - in partnership with the Sport and Recreation Department - hosted a successful Mandela Sport and Culture Day at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.

The sporting event was also part of the United4Mandela campaign, which seeks to bring together South Africans in celebration of Mandela's vision of sport as a unifying force in society.

For the first time in the history of the rainbow nation, fans enjoyed a doubleheader of a rugby and football match, played at the same venue. On the day, Bafana Bafana defeated Burkina Faso 2-0, while the Springboks also beat Argentina in their rugby test match.

However, the South African Masters were unfortunate not to secure victory, losing 2-0 to the Italian Masters.

The proceeds from the inaugural Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day will go towards building the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital in Gauteng.

Union Buildings centenary

Earlier this year, Cabinet approved the Union Buildings' 100th anniversary celebrations, which will be held in December under a theme that will promote social cohesion, national unity and reconciliation.

The Union Buildings form part of the official seat of the South African government and also house The Presidency offices. The imposing buildings are located in the northern end of Arcadia, Pretoria.

On 10 May 1994, the inauguration of Mandela, South Africa's first democratically elected president, and his deputy presidents, after the country's first free elections, heralded the beginning of a new era in South Africa's history.

Designed by Sir Herbert Baker in 1908, building began in 1909 and was completed in 1913.

It took approximately 1 265 artisans, workmen and labourers almost three years to construct, using 14 million bricks for the interior office walls, half a million cubic feet of freestone, 74 000 cubic yards of concrete, 40 000 bags of cement and 20 000 cubic feet of granite.

Nthambeleni Gabara