PRESS STATEMENT: Mayor of Johannesburg in Palestine to unveil Mandela Statue

The human rights and Palestine solidarity organisation BDS South Africa welcomes the progressive initiative by the City of Johannesburg to commission and donate a 6 meter Nelson Mandela statue to the people of Palestine.

The Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Cllr. 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 (3pm South African time, 4pm Palestinian time). A live web broadcast link will be made available in the course of the day, please follow

The Palestinians have declared today (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 explained that: “We see the statue as a symbol of friendship, as a symbol of demonstrating our solidarity but also hopefully as an inspiration to the people of Palestine that you indeed would be able to achieve your 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.”

BDS South Africa also sadly notes the frustration caused to this project by 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.

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.  Nelson Mandela himself said in 1997: "We are proud of the modest technical assistance that our South African government is offering Palestine...but the various discussions with our counterparts in Palestine are an indication that we can do more." The City of Johannesburg is indeed carrying forward Nelson Mandela's vision in strengthening our relations with the Palestinians.
Kwara Kekana, BDS South Africa: +27 (0) 74 054 3826 / +27 (0) 84 211 9988
Phindile Chauke, City of Joburg ( currently in Palestine): 0723601533

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