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Ministers and Deputy Ministers

Directors-General and Senior Government officials

Tambo family

Members of the media

Ladies and Gentlemen​


Good morning.

It is my pleasure to brief you about our state of readiness on behalf of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) for the Centenary Celebrations of Oliver Reginald (OR) Tambo.

In November last year, President Jacob Zuma established an Inter-Ministerial Committee to prepare for the celebration of the centenary of the birth of OR Tambo.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee is comprised of the following Ministers and Premiers:-

    §  Minister in The Presidency: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation as Chairperson;

    §  Minister of Arts and Culture; 

    §  Minister of Communications;

    §  Minister of Energy;

    §  Minister of Human Settlements;

    §  Minister of International Relations and Cooperation; 

    §  Minister of Public Enterprises; 

    §  Minister of Public Works; 

    §  Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform; 

    §  Minister of Transport; 

    §  Minister of Water and Sanitation; 

    §  Minister of Defense and Military Veterans; 

    §  Minister of Police; 

    §  Premier of Gauteng and Premier of the Eastern Cape.

​Oliver Tambo was born in the rural village of Nkantolo, outside Mbizana in the Eastern Cape on 27 October 1917. He is the late former President of the African National Congress (ANC) and one of the founding fathers of South Africa’s liberation and constitutional democracy.


Tambo took over the reigns as the Acting President of the ANC after the passing of Chief Albert Luthuli in July 1967. He led the movement from exile for several decades. He remains the longest serving president in the history of the ANC, having been at the helm of the organisation from 1969 to 1991.


He was a visionary leader who had great foresight and erudition. It was his inspirational leadership that kept the national democratic revolution intact throughout the decades of exile. He has been described by President Jacob Zuma as a “solution oriented leader who always sought to move forward on the basis of building consensus”.


OR Tambo was a multidimensional individual, a versatile leader and the true epitome of servitude. Besides being a staunch ANC activist, he was a family man, a lawyer, sportsman, a golfer, a scientist of note, a brave stick fighter, a musician, a horse rider, a devout Christian, and a man who was vociferously against tribalism, and the list is not exhaustive. In short, we are paying homage to a man of integrity and global leader who selflessly devoted his life in service of the people.


Tambo was an acclaimed internationalist, he mobilised the international community to support our struggle against apartheid.  He traversed the continent and galvanised different African countries to be in solidarity not only with the ANC, but with the entire South African liberation movement inclusive of different political formations.


He represented the movement at world forums such as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations (UN). Many countries recognised him as a diplomat and accorded him the status of a head of state. Subsequent to his efforts, the ANC had Chief Representatives in several countries across the African continent. He also led key processes from the Harare Declaration to the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

O R Tambo played a pivotal role in the country’s struggle against apartheid. His stewardship of the liberation movement galvanised world opinion against the apartheid regime. Tambo laid the foundation for our democracy.

South Africa is today a constitutional democracy founded on the principles of human dignity and equal rights for everyone because of the values he stood for and the vision he cherished. We are building on his legacy to create a society envisaged in the Freedom Charter and the Constitution.


The national OR Tambo centenary celebration will be held on 27 October 2017 to mark his 100th birthday, if he were alive, at his birthplace in Nkantolo, in the Eastern Cape. Approximately 20 000 members of the public are expected to attend. Mobilisation is currently underway especially in the areas around Bizana.  About 1000 invited guests are expected to be in attendance, including, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Premiers, MECs, Mayors, Councillors, Traditional leaders, Ambassadors et cetera.


On the 27th of October, the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation will be hosting their Oliver Tambo Centenary Memorial Lecture. The event takes place at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Great Hall, and commences at 16h00 with pre-event celebrations. These include performances by the Wits Choir, the Unity Secondary School Choir, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The Lecture, which will be delivered by Former President Thabo Mbeki, will commence at 18h30.

Sunday, the 29th of October, sees a collaboration between the Tambo and Mbeki Foundations in the hosting of the Oliver Tambo and S.S. Mendi Centenary Commemoration. Everyone is invited to share in an afternoon of choral music and poetry, with performances by Imilonji KaNtu Choral Society, JMPD and EMPD choirs, the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra, and Sello Maake ka-Ncube.

The celebrations will be used to draw lessons from his life and understand the qualities that made him succeed in uniting the ANC and laying the foundation for the free and democratic society we have today. The centenary celebrations are being held under the theme “Life and Legacy of OR Tambo” and are expected to run until December 2017.

The atmosphere and the mood on the ground is jovial building up to the centenary day of 27 October 2017. The Eastern Cape Provincial IMC under the leadership of MEC for Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture (DSRAC), Pemmy Majodina with the support from hosting Municipalities, stakeholders and other key partners have been hard at work and leading the count-down awareness activities. Such activities include various awareness programmes and activations in taxi ranks, malls, multimedia campaigns, social media campaigns as well as face-to-face interactions with the people of Mbizana.  

Throughout the centenary year, the Provincial government has worked very hard in its implementation of key OR Tambo legacy projects in the area of Mbizana in general and Nkantolo in particular and such projects include:

Infrastructure legacy Projects ​

 a)  ELECTRIFICATION – 4362 households were energised in September 2017 by Mbizana Local Municipality and ESKOM. 1000 households have been connected to date and the breakdown is as follows: 300 households for Empetsheni village, Ludeke 200, Qungebe 26, Jama village 224, KwaMpisi 250. 

 b) SURFACING OF THE ROAD – The Provincial Department of Roads and Public Works have upgraded and completed 13km stretch of road from Ludeke to Nkantolo.

 c) CONSTRUCTION OF HOUSES – The Provincial Department of Human Settlement has rolled out a housing project of 1000 houses with 500 of those houses completed in Nkantolo village where OR Tambo was born. Out of the remaining 500 houses for Silangwe village, 100 houses have been built while construction of the remaining 400 houses will be completed by the end of the current financial year.

 d) NKANTOLO MULTI PURPOSE CENTRE – The construction of Nkantolo Multi - Purpose Community Centre is currently underway and the projected completion timeline is 31 March 2018.

 e) GARDEN OF REMEMBERANCE – Processes are in place to accelerate the refurbishment of the OR Tambo garden of remembrance.

 f) CONSTRUCTION OF LUDEKE DAM – The construction of Ludeke dam has been completed. An amount of R100million has been approved by the Department of Water and Sanitation for secondary bulk infrastructure and this will enable the water reticulation from the dam to benefit people in Alfred Nzo District Municipality and Mbizana Local Municipality and most importantly Nkantolo village in ward 04. ​​​​


On 27 of October 2016, the Minister in the Presidency for Planning Monitoring and Evaluation paid first tribute to O.R. Tambo on the occasion of the one-year countdown on 27 October 2016, while addressing the Black Business Quarterly (BBQ) Awards Ceremony at Emperor’s Palace.

Government and key stakeholders has been celebrating the life of OR Tambo through different planned activities throughout the year.

The department of Arts and Culture embarked on public lectures and dialogues in partnership with different stakeholders, to mention but a few:


Department of Arts and Culture

Ø  The Steve Biko Dialogue in partnership with AZAPO under the theme: The Year of OR Tambo: Celebrating our Liberation Heritage and Legacy of Black Consciousness on 11th September 2017.

Ø  The 14th  National Oral History Conference in Umtata in the EC 10th – 12th October under the theme: OR Tambo in Memoria: Reminiscing on Centenary of Struggle, True Leadership and Leadership Values of Liberation

Ø  The Department of Arts and Culture through the National Heritage Council of South Africa commissioned a booklet titled: With love To OR Tambo from the Kids - “Unedited stories of learners on OR Tambo – the Liberation icon” to celebrate the values and legacy of Tambo through the eyes of children.

Ø  The booklet is a culmination of admirable work from the school children from four primary schools in Tsakane (Lebone, Khombindlela, Michael Zulu and Mangosuthu Primary Schools).

Ø  Recently the department held a lecture in partnership with the Palestine Embassy on the plight of Palestine people at the University of Venda under the OR Tambo centenary theme.  “We take this occasion to stress the responsibility of the international community to assist the people of Palestine in their struggle for a State of their own”, stated Cde. OR Tambo at the 9th United Nations International NGO Meeting on the Question of Palestine in 1982.


As a custodian for national days, the Department of Arts and Culture held all National Days celebrations under the OR Tambo centenary theme to create public awareness. The department conducted a colloquia programme during Africa Month (May) in various provinces led by experts in the creative sector from the country and other parts of the continent under the theme. This includes social cohesion dialogues held in provinces where the national days are held.


One of the lectures organised by the National Heritage Council at the Freedom Park on 30 May 2017, was addressed by the Minister in the Presidency for Planning Monitoring and Evaluation. 


Government together with the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation embarked on a year-long programme of activities to reflect on the life of Tambo in honour of his legacy.

South African Reserve Bank

On 4 October 2017, the South African Reserve Bank launched a R5 circulation coin and a series of collectible coins in honour of the anti-apartheid hero.

The new R5 coin, worth its face value, entered into circulation from the 1st of October 2017 and the other collectable coins will be available from the South African Mint and authorised dealers from 27 October 2017, OR Tambo’s 100th anniversary.

Department of Communication with SABC

Last Month, the Department of Communications in partnership with the SABC hosted a 50 days countdown special broadcast panel discussion whereby the then Minister of Communications, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo, was the main speaker. Brand SA also participated in the panel discussion.

This followed the 100 days countdown radio simul-broadcast which was aired on SABC Radio stations in July 2017. The Department of Communications has through the SABC commissioned two mini documentaries in honour of Tambo to be shown on SABC. The details will be furnished as soon as they are finalised.

One documentary is about the renaming of Jan Smuts International Airport to OR Tambo International Airport. Another documentary seeks to preserve and tell the story of Tambo’s life. 

The SABC has played a key role in ensuring that their various platforms and programmes educate and inform South Africans about this great man, his values and what he did to build a free South Africa.

Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation

Throughout the year, the Foundation has hosted several events honouring Oliver Tambo. For example, February saw a collaboration between the Foundation and the Trevor Huddleston Memorial Centre. The Evening of Recollections and Reflections allowed for the sharing of memories by Lord Steel of Aikwood, Ambassador Abdul Minty and Mme Gertrude Shope. July brought with it the commemoration of a lifelong friendship, in the Tambo and Mandela In Conversation, which discussed the leadership influences and lessons to be learnt from these two giants. The Tambo and Mandela Foundations collaborated once again on Mandela Day, helping the Adelaide Tambo School for the Physically Challenged.

During Women’s Month, the Tambo Foundation, along with the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, hosted a cross-generational women’s dialogue to discuss the similarities and differences in challenges faced by women – both during O.R.’s time, and now. The panel included women who worked with Tambo such as Mme Getrude Shope and Dr. Frene Ginwala. The dialogue delved into what strategies could be implemented to continue to collectively empower and emancipate women.

One of the dreams of OR Tambo upon his arrival home was the refurbishment of the school in Nkantolo.  The state of the school was not good and it was classified as a lower technical school and did not have adequate facilities.  A collaborative effort is at an advanced stage between the Department of Basic Education, the Eastern Cape Education Department, the Bizana Local Municipality and the Oliver  and Adelaide Tambo Foundation with the firm support of Eskom to refurbish the school. 

The new school will have world class amenities and facilities including a technical workshop, computer room, ablution block and amenities which will offer opportunities to young learners in the place of Tambo’s birth.  To succeed the project will need more support from the private sector and other interested donors.  Above all, this initiative aims to serve as a model for the refurbishment of infrastructure, learning and teaching in rural schools countrywide in honour of O.R Tambo and his passion for education.

Department of Social Development  

The Department of Social Development has been in Nkantolo since October 9 holding dialogues as part of Social Development month activities. The Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini will be handing out school uniforms to identified pupils with poor background as part of Social Relief of Distress. On October 22, Minister Dlamini and the Department of Social Development will have an Imbizo in Nkantolo.

Department of Water and Sanitation

Government has prioritised clean water provision as stipulated in our Constitution.  As such the Department of Water and Sanitation will officially hand over the completed Ludeke Dam to the community of Mbizana. Ludeke Dam will be handed over on Wednesday, 25 October as part of OR Tambo Centenary celebrations. This is part of the Greater Mbizana Regional Bulk Water Supply Scheme which includes a pumped raw-water supply system to the existing Nomlacu Water Treatment Works and more than 266 000 people in Alfred Nzo District Municipality, Mbizana Local Municipality, are expected to benefit.

Department of Transport and ACSA

Only yesterday, the 19th of October, President Zuma unveiled a 2.5 metre statue of Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.

The ceremony formed part of the Department of Transport's O.R. Tambo centenary celebration programme. The ceremony, honoured and celebrated Tambo's great life and legacy as well as acknowledging the sacrifices and immense contribution he made towards a free, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa. The Statue was mounted at the International Arrivals Atrium (Hall) which is managed by the Department of Transport's State Owned Entity (SOE), the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA).

For the main event, more than 200 dignitaries were involved including the family of Oliver Tambo plus an overflow area on site for other key stakeholders. Eight radio stations hosted outside broadcasts at the event, following live television coverage in the morning.

Earlier on the same day, President Zuma unveiled a bust of OR Tambo at the Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS), an entity of the Department of Transport. At the ATNS, President Zuma not only unveiled the bust, but also re-named an auditorium at the entity after him.

To further honour our liberation struggle icon, the President unveiled the ATNS tower, which is beautifully branded with the imagery of the Oliver Tambo centenary, which will be a visible and welcoming site to flights as they enter and leave the OR Tambo International Airport.

Later in the month, on October 26, the Transport Ministry will lead a Road Safety Education Drive and Law Enforcement Operation in the Eastern Cape in support of, and as part of the build-up to the main event of the OR Tambo Centenary Celebrations in Bizana, which will take place on 27 October 2017.

It is our intension to ensure that the spirit of OR Tambo is felt throughout society. We want South Africans from all walks of life to honour and appreciate the legacy of this distinguished leader of our people. We should uphold the vision of OR Tambo and strive towards building the non-racial, non-sexist and equal South Africa that he espoused.  

Department of Education Mpumalanga Province

In honor of OR Tambo, Mpumalanga Department of Education will unveil the OR Tambo Mathematics, Science and Technology Academy on the 27 October at Emalahleni Municipality.


Ministers in this IMC and various stakeholders have throughout this year participated on media platforms and have contributed Opinion Editorials aimed at raising public awareness about this great South African and his contribution.  We would like to take this opportunity to extend our gratitude to all members of the media for your support in this process.

In conclusion, government continues striving to create the country OR Tambo envisaged. The National Development Plan (NDP), Vision 2030 remains a blueprint to ensure we stay on course. 

We are confident that had he been alive today, OR Tambo, the passionate lover of education, would be proud of the NDP and its goals especially in developing future leaders from all walks of life.

Let us all continue to honour the sacrifices and contributions of the remarkable struggle stalwarts such as OR Tambo in fighting for a free, non-racial and democratic South Africa. Let this be what inspires each and every one of us as South Africans.

Centenary celebrations such as this, are therefore, an opportunity to learn more about the immense sacrifices people like Oliver Tambo and educate young people of this country about the historic journey of our nation. The celebration of the life of OR Tambo is a subtle reminder that our freedom was not free.

The IMC would like to take this opportunity to thank all South Africans in their various formations who used this year to create the awareness on this giant liberation movement fighter and to educate the younger generation on the life and legacy of OR Tambo.

In the spirit of our late icon, OR Tambo, let us join hands to build the united and prosperous nation that he envisioned.

I thank you

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