Eric Naki

Eric Naki

The ANC head office has paid a giant tribute to a giant, Nelson Mandela.

It put up two seven-storey-high banners outside Luthuli House party headquarters as a tribute to Madiba on his 90th birthday today.

"The banners are a fitting tribute to a giant of Africa, a global icon and a much-loved son of our soil," the organisation said in a statement yesterday.

The ANC plans to hold a Mandela 90th birthday rally at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on August 2.

"The rally will be an opportunity for citizens to celebrate with Madiba and to thank him for his leadership and service to the nations," the ANC said.

Mandela led South Africa into a brave new age, shedding the animosities of the past and building a brighter future for all its people.

"As we celebrate Madiba's 90th birthday we will pledge ourselves to uphold the values and principles to which he has dedicated his life. On this day we make a solemn promise to Madiba that we will continue his struggle for freedom, to achieve a better life for all South Africans."

Mandela, South Africa's first black and democratically elected president, retired from active politics after serving one term in 1999.

His other birthday celebrations were held in London and Hammanskraal outside Pretoria and a lecture by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Soweto last weekend.

Another celebration will be held at Mandela's rural home at Qunu in Eastern Cape tomorrow.

Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said: "We join all South Africans and his many admirers in wishing Nelson Mandela a very happy 90th birthday.

"Throughout his life Mandela has reflected rare qualities of leadership. He demonstrated the capacity to see beyond the present, with its pressures and competing vested interests, and take bold decisions in the interests of future generations."

Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille said: "You have one leadership quality I will always hold dear. You have the genuine ability to make whoever you are talking to feel more special than you.

"It is a humility that puts other people first, it comes straight from the heart and it was this quality that enabled Nelson Mandela to rise above party political loyalty and create a vision that is all-inclusive."