Castro, Ramaphosa among recipients named for National Orders

Thursday, March 26, 2009
By: 
Bathandwa Mbola

Pretoria - Famous Cuban revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, and veteran negotiator Cyril Ramaphosa are among the 28 recipients set to receive National Orders on Friday at the Union Buildings.

President Kgalema Motlanthe will bestow the awards to the men and women who have contributed towards nation building and consolidating democracy.

Announcing the recipients on Wednesday, Director General in the Presidency Frank Chikane said Mr Castro, who will not be able to attend due to ill health, will receive the Order of Companions of OR Tambo in Gold.

Mr Castro will be honoured for his contribution to ending racism, colonialism, apartheid and inequality in human society.

Other recipients include Mr Ramaphosa, who was previously a major figure in South African national politics and Kader Asmal, who is a professor of human rights and a former education minister.

Mr Ramaphosa will be bestowed with the Order of Baobab in Silver, while Professor Asmal will be awarded the Order of Luthuli in Silver.

Another recipient of the Order of Luthuli in silver is Rebecca Masilela for her inspiring contribution as a nurturing mother to the exiled cadres who lived in Swaziland during the struggle, together with James "Jimmy" la Guma for his struggle against apartheid.

Rev Chikane described the award recipients as "extraordinary people".

"The national orders are prescribed in the national Constitution of the Republic of South Africa that part of the responsibility of the President is to honour extraordinary people in South Africa who serve in one form or another ... in making a contribution to the country," he said.

Rev Chikane said the awards, which will be bestowed under the theme Hope and Resilience, forms part of nation building and consolidating the country's democracy.

"Government through the National Orders seeks to heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and human rights."

Chairperson of the advisory council for the awards, Yvonne Muthien described the list of the 28 recipients as "outstanding."

"They are outstanding because they have in some way contributed to making a better life for all for those who live in South Africa," said Ms Muthien.

She helped Rev Chikane unveil the names of the recipients, some of whom will receive their awards posthumously.

Also among those to be honoured on Friday included the Namibian born Andimba Toivo ya Toivo for his contribution to independence and freedom in South Africa and Namibia.

A founding member of the Ovamboland People's Congress, Mr Toiya's political activities lead to his arrest in 1966 by the South African authorities. He spent 20 years' imprisonment at Robben Island. He will be awarded the Order of Companions of OR Tambo in Silver.

Orders to be bestowed are the Order of Baobab, the Order of Luthuli and the Order of OR Tambo.

The Order of Baobab is awarded to South Africans for distinguished service, well above and beyond the ordinary call of duty.

It is an award for exceptional and distinguished contributions in the struggle for democracy; building democracy and human rights; nation building; peace and security; journalism, literature, arts, culture and music; business and the economy; science, medicine and technological innovation.

The Order of Baobab is awarded in three categories, namely Supreme Counsellor of the Order of Baobab in gold, the Grand Counsellor of Baobab in silver and the Counsellor of Baobab in bronze.

The Order of Luthuli is awarded to South Africans who have made a meaningful contribution to the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice and peace, and conflict resolution. This order is also conferred in gold, silver and bronze.

It symbolises the vision of the late Chief Albert Luthuli for African people to participate fully in the socio-economic and political development of South Africa.

The legendary liberation struggle leader became the first African recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961.

The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo is awarded to foreign nationals, be they heads of state and government or other dignitaries, for friendship shown to South Africa.

It is therefore an order of peace, co-operation and active expression of solidarity and support. The Order primarily constitutes an essential pillar of international and multilateral relations.

The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo is also awarded in the three classes of Supreme Companion of O.R. Tambo (gold), Grand Companion of O.R. Tambo (silver) and Companion of O.R. Tambo (bronze).

Other National Orders are the Order of Mapungubwe, Order of Ikhamanga and the Mendi Decoration for bravery.

Since the achievement of democracy in 1994, men and women from all walks of life have been honoured for their contribution to peace, nation building and human rights for the accomplishment of excellence and exceptional achievement, as well as for distinguished contributions to the South African nation.