PRESIDENT MBEKI USHERS IN NEW ERA IN NATIONAL ORDERS
President Thabo Mbeki will next week usher in a new era in the awarding of honours by the democratic South African state.
The first of a new range of honours will be presented by the President at a prestigious event on 10 December 2002 at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
National Orders are the highest honour that a country, through its head of state, can bestow on citizens and deserving foreign nationals, and these awards are traditionally viewed as events of importance in the national life of many countries.
The event on 10 December 2002 will be an occasion to honour South Africans for their excellence, exceptional achievement and distinguished service. The occasion will also see the award of honours to foreign nationals and foreign dignitaries for friendship shown to South Africa. The awards will help to reinforce South Africa's democracy and to entrench a new national identity.
The South African Constitution of 1996 reserved for the President the right to confer honours. It is therefore the prerogative of the President to bestow orders and decorations on the nominated recipients
In an effort to break with the apartheid and colonial past, in May 1998 the President's Advisory Council on National Orders was instructed to review the old system of National Orders and awards. A technical committee was set up which embarked on an extensive and inclusive research process. This involved public consultation, interviews on a national scale with stakeholders, group discussions focusing on alternative systems, engaging in historical research and commissioning jewellery and medal designers to propose new medals.
As part of this process, the then Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, with the assistance of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), investigated further symbolism in an attempt to capture the essence of a new aesthetic to reflect the spirit of a new country.
A panel of academics and specialists versed in indigenous symbols and symbolism was asked to identify key factors and elements that denote the collective and inclusive history and experience of Africa, with South Africa as the main point of reference. The collective end result of the process has been the commissioning of new designs for the national orders.
Through public participation, nominations were forwarded to the Presidency. Subsequent to these processes, approximately 18 individuals will be honoured on 10 December.
The three different types of new National Orders are:
THE ORDER OF MAPUNGUBWE
This Order is awarded to South African citizens for excellence and exceptional achievement on the international stage. Three categories can be distinguished:
Category 1: the Order of Mapungubwe (Platinum)
Category 2: the Order of Mapungubwe (Gold)
Category 3: the Order of Mapungubwe (Bronze)
THE ORDER OF BAOBAB
This Order is awarded to South African citizens for distinguished service. The service, which is recognised, is well above and beyond the ordinary call of duty. It is an award for exceptional and distinguished contributions in the following categories:
* 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, technological innovation
The Order of Baobab is awarded in three categories:
* Supreme Counsellor of the Order of Baobab (Gold)
* The Grand Counsellor of Baobab (Silver)
* The Counsellor of Baobab (Bronze).
THE ORDER OF THE COMPANION OF O.R. TAMBO
This Order is to be awarded to individuals of foreign nationality (heads of state and government and other dignitaries). It is also awarded 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 companion of O.R. Tambo can also be awarded in three classes:
* Supreme Companion of O.R. Tambo (Gold)
* Grand Companion of O.R. Tambo (Silver)
* Companion of O.R. Tambo (Bronze)
For further information please contact:
Andile Xaba on 082 370 5336
Bheki Khumalo on 083 256 9133
Issued by The Presidency
5 December 2002