Source: The Presidency
Title: SA: Zuma: Address by the President of South Africa, at the National Orders Awards Ceremony, Pretoria
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe,
Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo,
Former President Thabo Mbeki,
Former Deputy President Baleka Mbete,
The Minister of Arts and Culture Mr Paul Mashatile,
The distinguished recipients of the National Orders from South Africa and abroad,
Ministers, Premiers, Deputy Ministers,
The Chancellor of the National Orders, Dr Cassius Lubisi,
The Advisory Council on the National Orders,
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Let me welcome all of you to this National Orders Awards Ceremony.
This ceremony takes place on a significant day in our history, on Freedom Day.
On the 27th of April we buried apartheid and colonial oppression, and opened a new chapter of unity, reconciliation and the building of a better life for all.
We are holding this ceremony on this important day because the National Orders recognise the highest contribution that individuals or groups can make to the success or well being of this country and her people.
There can be no better day than Freedom Day for us as a nation to celebrate our freedom by honouring outstanding compatriots who have given their all for this country and its people.
There can be no better day than Freedom Day indeed, for us to thank and honour the friends of South Africa from around the world, for their contribution to our country and its people.
The National Orders encapsulate what we stand for, as outlined in the Preamble of the Constitution of the Republic. It states that:
“We, the people of South Africa,
Recognise the injustices of our past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and
Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity”.
The profile of the recipients this year embodies what the Preamble says.
We are honouring a distinguished group of men and women, who have displayed tremendous love and dedication for this country and its people.
They include freedom fighters who sacrificed everything for freedom, including their own lives.
We are also honouring citizens who so valued human life that they lost their own, trying to save others, including children.
We welcome their families to this ceremony.
We pay tribute to compatriots who have excelled in science or in promoting faith as an instrument of unity and cohesion, and those who have used sports, music or journalism to promote social cohesion, unity and national achievement.
We honour friends and comrades from Russia, the United States and the Netherlands for proving that solidarity and friendship transcend boundaries, when it comes to fighting for freedom and human dignity.
Former President Lula da Silva of Brazil could not join us this evening, and will be awarded at a later stage.
Ladies and gentlemen,
National Orders are distinct from non-statutory awards as they recognise and celebrate service to the country and the nation.
Every award is as important as the next one, and all recipients are as important as all others.
Compatriots and friends,
We recall that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the tragic Matola raid, where the apartheid South African Defence Force invaded Mozambique and brutally killed 15 ANC freedom fighters.
The apartheid State was so determined to extinguish every flame of freedom, that it despatched its death squads to countries that offered our freedom fighters refuge.
Each raid made the freedom fighters more determined than ever, to fight for their liberation and for a united, non-racial and democratic South Africa.
They proved that there is no force on earth that can stop any people, who have decided to fight till the last breath to gain their freedom.
We pay a special tribute to the Matola raid martyrs this evening.
This year also marks the 35th anniversary of the June 16 uprising in Soweto.
We honour the leader of the June 16 uprising, Tsietsi Mashinini and through him, we pay tribute to all the youth of our country and the role they have played in the struggle for liberation.
Last year we had a spectacular celebration of our hard-won freedom, through the successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.
We were able to prove the capability of our country and of the continent, and started a new culture of Afro-optimism.
We recognise this outstanding achievement this evening and honour the compatriots who made it all possible.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our freedom was achieved through enormous sacrifices. We should honour it, cherish it and defend it at all times.
We should not allow anyone to trivialise our freedom, or to try to reverse the gains of our hard won democracy.
We congratulate all those who are to be admitted into the National Orders.
We are proud of your achievements. You add value to our freedom and inspire others to strive to do better each time, for the common good of the country and its people.
Under the powers vested in me by Section 84 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996, I now confer the Order of Mendi for Bravery, the Order of Ikhamanga, the Order of the Baobab, the Order of Luthuli, the Order of Mapungubwe and the Order of the Companions of O R Tambo.
The recipients shall henceforth be honoured as esteemed Members of the Orders.
The people of South Africa salute them all!
I thank you.