Madiba 90

Madiba's sense of humour praised

2008-06-27 19:26

Special Report

Mandela: SA needs good leaders

Now as much as ever, South Africa needs disciplined leaders, Nelson Mandela has said at birthday celebration in Pretoria.

Cape Town - Among the many accolades that were showered on Nelson Mandela at a joint sitting of Parliament on Friday were some shining examples of his well known sense of humour.

During the debate in celebration of Mandela's 90th birthday, the Democratic Party's Tony Leon recalled an exchange in Parliament when the former president referred to the DA as a Mickey Mouse party.

Leon said he responded to Mandela's jibe by calling the ANC a Goofy party.

He said many years later he had undergone a by-pass operation and while in hospital Mandela had visited him.

Greeted snipers

"I heard a knock at the door followed by Mandela's distinctive voice saying: "Is Mickey Mouse there? This is your friend Goofy." Leon said to great laugher.

Inkatha Freedom Party leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, also had a story to tell about what he called Mandela's "wicked sense of humour" which has a relevance to current events.

Buthelezi said he had been appointed acting president while President Thabo Mbeki was on a trip to Malaysia. Shortly before he was due to take over the presidency Mandela said to him: "It's nearly 12 o'clock, go and speak to (Zimbabwean president) Mugabe."

Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, also recalled a humorous experience with Mandela when the two visited the town of Zeerust. Motlanthe said security was high when they arrived at the airport and snipers had been put in place behind nearby bushes to protect the dignitaries.

However Mandela walked up to one of the snipers with an outstretched hand and asked him: "How are you? He then proceeded to greet the next person causing disarray among the security personnel.

Motlanthe said this was an example of the love and compassion that Mandela exuded.

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