Remarks by Minister of Science and Technology Mosibudi Mangena at the event to honour recipients of the National Order of Mapungubwe
24 April 2008
Programme director, Director-General of Science and Technology, Dr Phil Mjwara
Distinguished recipients of the National Order of Mapungubwe
Presidents and CEOs of councils
Members of science councils and entities
Ladies and gentlemen
We salute and congratulate the recipients of the National Order of Mapungubwe bestowed by the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Thabo Mbeki.
About one thousand years ago, a thriving Kingdom of Mapungubwe existed in the northern region of our country. It comprised a sophisticated state system, with highly developed agriculture, mining, and metallurgy industries. The Kingdom traded with countries as far afield as China. Studies by the University of the Witwatersrand reveal that Mapungubwe represented “the most complex society in Southern Africa”. Mapungubwe is believed to be the place of origin of the culture and achievements of the people of ancient Great Zimbabwe.
The Order of Mapungubwe is awarded to South Africans who have made achievements that have had an international impact and served the interests of South Africa. The first and highest category of this Order is awarded in platinum for unique and exceptional achievements. Former President Nelson Mandela is one of the outstanding people who received the award in platinum.
The second-highest category is gold, and recipients include former President FW de Klerk and a host of our scientists, including Allan Cormack, Sydney Brenner, Aaron Klug and Basil Schonland, the founding president of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Those who received the award in silver in the past include scientists Sibusiso Sibisi, Valerie Mizrahi, Claire Penn, Frank Reginald Nunes Nabarro and Selig Percy Amoils, while recipients of the award in the bronze category include Peter Beighton, Hamilton Naki, Himladevi Soodyall, Tebello Nyokong, Batmanathan Dayanand Reddy and Tshilidzi Marwala.
The accolades to the scientists augur well for the National System of Innovation. They are also in line with the National Research and Development Strategy, which seeks, among others, to affirm the contribution of scientists in South Africa and abroad to the betterment of our country. We also hope that these honours will encourage our youth to follow the science, engineering and technology careers.
We are pleased that many of the recipients continue to render their services to develop an effective innovation system, which in partnership with the private sector, continue to create new knowledge and produce new innovations that are putting our country and the region on a firm footing internationally.
Our National System of Innovation has been greatly enriched by the work done by the recipients, who have contributed immensely towards the development of research and innovation policy, legislation and regulatory frameworks to create an enabling environment for research and innovation to thrive. We now need to consolidate and streamline the work done by these great women and men to ensure it bolsters the national agenda for improving the living conditions of our people through science, technology and innovation.
Like the inhabitants of Mapungubwe Hill, who overcame existing social and environmental challenges to develop a thriving settlement that became the centre of a complex and highly developed state of the ancient Kingdom of Mapungubwe, the award recipients are also making scientific contributions that are beginning to move our country towards a knowledge economy.
My ministry is proud to be associated with men and women of their stature. Their visionary leadership and exemplary dedication provide a pillar to support our endeavours to ensure that science and technology is used to address many of the developmental challenges facing our country and our continent. And we hope many more practicing scientists and our young people will follow in their steps. With many leaders of their calibre we are sure to realise our vision of creating a prosperous society.
Once more, we congratulate the recipients of the Order of Mapungubwe, and thank them for the services they continue to render so diligently to this country and its people.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Science and Technology
24 April 2008
Source: Department of Science and Technology, (http://www.dst.gov.za/)