Madiba gets smart ID at 95
18 July 2013, 12:28
Pretoria - The home affairs department issued a smart ID card for former
president Nelson Mandela as the ailing statesman celebrated his 95th birthday
On his father’s behalf, Mandela's daughter Zindzi Mandela-Motlhajwa was
handed a replica of the card by former president Thabo Mbeki at the Union
Buildings, in Pretoria.
Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor said the transformation from the ID book
to the high tech ID card was symbolic of South Africa’s expedition in the
"Today we reach another milestone in the process of restoring dignity
to South African citizens. Today we begin the process of replacing the ID books
with the smart ID cards, which are symbolic of our liberation," she said.
Pandor said the first smart cards would be issued to eminent people
including President Jacob Zuma, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Graca Machel,
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and Mbeki.
Other recipients of the first batch of cards would be Deputy President
Kgalema Motlanthe, former president FW de Klerk, and struggle veterans Sophie
de Bruyn, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada and Dennis Goldberg.
Pandor said other recipients include aged South Africans, some of whom were
"The ID smart card is a way of affirming citizenship and using digital
technology to protect the integrity of our identity as South Africans. It was
here at the Union Building on May 10 in 1994 that [former] president Mandela
became the first president of a democratic South Africa.
"We wish our founding president an extremely happy birthday," she
Mandela has spent the past 41 days in a Pretoria hospital.
On Thursday, the presidency said his health was "steadily
"Madiba remains in hospital in Pretoria, but his doctors have confirmed
that his health is steadily improving," spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a
Until now, his condition has been described as critical but stable.
"On behalf of government and all the people of South Africa, we wish
Madiba a joyous 95th birthday," Zuma said.
"We are proud to call this international icon our own as South Africans
and wish him good health."
In 2009, 18 July was declared Mandela Day to honour the former statesman,
with people encouraged to dedicate 67 minutes of their time to nation-building
and charity in recognition of his service towards securing democracy and
restoring human dignity.
"We thank all our people for supporting Madiba throughout the
hospitalisation with undying love and compassion," said Zuma.
"We also thank all for responding to the call to give Madiba the
biggest birthday celebration ever this year."