The City of Johannesburg will hand over a 6 meter Nelson Mandela statue to the people of Palestine on Tuesday. Mayor of the City of Johannesburg Parks Tau, is currently in Palestine for the unveiling of the monumental statue of the former President of the Republic of South Africa and global icon Nelson Mandela. The unveiling takes place today in the City of Ramallah on Tuesday afternoon.
The Palestinians have declared Tuesday a national day as they prepare to unveil the statue of Nelson Mandela at a square in Ramallah named after the first democratically elected South African president who famously declared in 1997 that: “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.
Speaking from Ramallah, the Mayor of Johannesburg Park Tau said he sees the statue as a symbol of friendship and demonstrating SA’s solidarity. He said he hoped Palestinians would see the stature as an inspiration to the people of Palestine in the fight for freedom.
“We are here as the people of South Africa to say we stand in solidarity with you, we stand in solidarity with your struggles and we understand the difficulties that you go through…Ultimately it is when you have experienced the real hardships of the people of Palestine that you understand the difficult situation that the people of Palestine are going through.”
The statue of Nelson Mandela was produced in South Africa by son of South African struggle stalwart Dali Tambo who is also in Palestine with the Mayor of Johannesburg for the unveiling ceremony. The delegation also includes Johannesburg Council Speaker, Cllr. Connie Bapela and Member of Mayoral Committee for Social Development and Health, Cllr. Nonceba Molwele.
The statue, which is the same size as the 6m high statue at South Africa’s Union Buildings in Pretoria, has been described by the City of Johannesburg as “a symbol of solidarity with the people of Palestine amidst their ongoing struggles.”
In a statement, human rights and Palestine solidarity organisation BDS South Africa said it welcomed the initiative, but also criticised Israeli authorities who withheld the statue for over a month at the Israeli port of Ashdod demanding exorbitant custom fees.
“We condemn these actions by the Israeli regime but know very well that the Israel government cannot stop the peace loving spirit of Nelson Mandela and nor will they be able to stop the Palestinian people from their pursuit of self-determination and an end to Israeli Apartheid,” said BDS South Africa.
Apartheid South Africa had shameful military and nuclear relations with Israel during the 1980s. However, following South Africa’s first democratic elections and under Nelson Mandela’s leadership South Africa began to forge new relations with progressive peoples including the Palestinians, Cubans and others.
South Africa’s capital city Pretoria/Tshwane, became the first South African city to twin with a Palestinian town, the Holy Town of Bethlehem, in 1999.
“The City of Johannesburg is indeed carrying forward Nelson Mandela’s vision in strengthening our relations with the Palestinians,” added BDS South Africa. VOC