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S. Africa to launch smart card to mark Mandela's 95th birthday


20:58, July 04, 2013

JOHANNESBURG, July 4 (Xinhua) -- The South African government will issue a new smart identification (ID) card on July 18 to mark former president Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday, an official announced in Pretoria on Thursday.

Minister of Home Affairs Naledi Pandor praised Mandela for his contribution to the national liberation movement, saying, "Mandela' s lifelong struggle for freedom and human rights for South Africans and the oppressed people all over the world was dedicated to acknowledging the fundamental worth of each and every human being."

The 94-year-old former president is spending his 26th day at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria after sent there from his Johannesburg residence with the serious recurring lung infection on June 8.

On Monday, the Presidency announced that Mandela remained in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

As Mandela's 95th birthday is approaching, the South African government is launching the national campaign to commemorate the day.

As part of the national commemoration on July 18, Pandor said her department will distribute the new smart IDs to those who have contributed to the national freedom or are dedicating to the social development, including Mandela's former wife Winnie Madikezela-Mandela, former presidents Thabo Mkebi and F.W. de klerk, as well as President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Some senior citizens of the 1980s and 1990s would be honored to get the new smart IDs as the "Mandela generation."

They played an active role in opposing the varied unfair measures under the apartheid system and seeking freedom, said the minister.

The new smart ID card will have a microchip, containing the biometric data of an individual. The Department of Home Affairs stressed that the new ID card will be almost impossible to be forged.

A total of 27 regional offices across the country will be established to issue the new smart IDs, according to the minister.

It is expected to take six to eight years for all South Africans to get the new smart ID cards.

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