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‘Zimbabwe was special to Mandela’

Zimbabwe was special to the late former South African President Nelson Mandela who showed his appreciation by visiting the country soon after his release from 27 years’ imprisonment, an official has said.

BY our staff

Speaking at celebrations to mark Nelson Mandela International Day yesterday, South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe Vusi Mavimbela said Mandela was grateful for the role the country played in dismantling apartheid.

“He visited Zambia because he had to attend the African National Congress conference. He then visited Zimbabwe to pay respect to President [Robert] Mugabe for being a liberation struggle hero and to thank Zimbabweans for the support in the liberation struggle of South Africa,” Mavimbela said.

He said Mandela — popularly known as Madiba — returned to Zimbabwe to attend Mugabe and First Lady Grace Mugabe’s wedding in 1996.
The South African embassy marked the Mandela Day by donating blankets and groceries to Melfort Farm Old People’s home in Goromonzi district.

“We are happy to be in Zimbabwe on this special Madiba Day, particularly here at Melfort Farm Old People’s Home where we are dedicating our 67 minutes of kindness to our senior citizens,” said Mavimbela.

Melfort Farm Old People’s Home board chairperson Bernard Hatendi said the home relied on donations.

“We have been surviving through cash and kind donations. However, we have started a poultry project and we are keeping rabbits to be self-sufficient,” Hatendi said.

“We submitted funding applications for projects to the social welfare department and we hope they will come through. We appeal to well-wishers for support.”

The inmates required at least 300kg of mealie- meal per month, meat, soya mince, laundry soap, one bar per inmate, detergents as well as medication.

Mandela fought for social justice for 67 years, hence the gesture to honour the time he spent fighting for democracy. South Africa encourages everyone in Africa to do an act of kindness for 67 minutes on Mandela Day.

Nelson Mandela International Day was launched in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on July 18 2009.

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