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'Madiba isn’t exploited'

Several newspaper columns have criticised Mandela Day by saying it has been commercialised.

Nelson Mandela is seen with his family in Qunu in Eastern Cape on 18 June 2011. Picture: Peter Morey/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory on Monday said while some may feel Mandela Day only serves to turn the struggle icon into a commodity - the intention remains to celebrate his legacy through community service.

The campaign was launched after the former statesman's 90th birthday.

It calls on citizens to dedicate 67 minutes of their time to community service on his birthday.

The 67 minutes reflect Madiba's 67-years of fighting for human rights.

Several newspaper columns over the past week have criticised the initiative for being too commercial.

But the centre's CEO Achmat Dangor said they took all possible steps to prevent the world icon from being exploited.

"We have developed an ethical framework that was negotiated with a whole range of partners which expressly asks that Nelson Mandela and Mandela Day is not commercialised. All we can do is set the example and ask other people to follow."

Meanwhile, Dangor said Madiba was looking forward to celebrating his 94th birthday with his family on Wednesday.

He said Mandela is well and in good spirits.

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory is a charitable organisation which was founded after Mandela stepped down as president of South Africa.