Johannesburg: President Jacob Zuma on Thursday unveiled a giant statue of former president Nelson Mandela, paying tribute to Mandela`s contribution to "a united, non-racial, non sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa".
The statue was unveiled on Naval Hill in Bloemfontain as Mandela received medical treatment for a lung infection at a Pretoria hospital, Xinhua reported.
Zuma described the statue as a tribute to a tortuous path the South African people travelled from oppression, through the struggle for liberation, to democracy in 1994 and to the progress being made to undo the legacy of many years of oppression, injustice and indignity for the majority of South Africans.
"The statue is our efforts to strengthen reconciliation, nation building, social cohesion and national healing that Madiba always stood for in all his life.Guided by the mandate of the African National Congress (ANC) to seek and work for equal rights and opportunities for all South Africans."
Mandela has made it his life`s work to lead and guide the people out of oppression, discrimination and economic suffering, Zuma said.
Mandela is a humble person; a principled leader whose life of selfless dedication to the cause of equality, freedom and dignity for all continues to be a source of inspiration to all South Africans and indeed to all of humanity, said Zuma.
The statue stands seven meters high, towering above the landscape overlooking Bloemfontein whose name has been changed to Mangaung.
On Mandela`s conditions, Zuma said Mandela remains in a Pretoria hospital where he is being treated for a lung infection. "We have assured him of the love and support of all South Africans during his hospitalisation."
Mandela has been hospitalised since December 08. Doctors have concluded tests on him, which revealed a recurrence of a previous lung infection.
Mandela turned 94 on July 18. His health has been a focus of concern. He was imprisoned for 27 years during the apartheid regime and was elected the country`s first black president in 1994.