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World honours Tata

Celebrations are happening around the world in honour of Nelson Mandela.

President Jacob Zuma addressing residents of Danville, Pretoria West, on 18/07/2013 in the launch of new low cost housing settlement. Picture:Christa Van der Walt/EWN

PRETORIA - President Jacob Zuma has visited former President Nelson Mandela at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria to wish him a happy 95th birthday.

Celebrations are happening around the country and the world to celebrate Mandela's birthday and World Mandela Day with people asked to give 67 minutes of their time to community service.

Schoolchildren, politicians, sports stars and close friends of Mandela's have all paid tribute to the man dubbed the "father of the nation".

The statesman is spending his birthday in hospital where he has been treated for a recurring lung infection for over a month.

The Presidency confirmed on Thursday morning that the global icon's condition is steadily improving.

Zuma joined crowds of well-wishers outside the hospital in singing the national anthem before going inside.

Dozens of people continue to arrive at the hospital to show Madiba support.

A military brass band also paraded around outside the facility as onlookers applauded.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said Mandela Day must inspire the nation to take action and do good for others.

"We declared 18 July as Mandela Day in honour of the birthday of our beloved former President Nelson Mandela. We declared this day to inspire all of us to take action. All our thoughts are focused on the rich legacy he's given us as South Africans and the world."

According to a snap survey nine out of 10 South Africans are looking to pledge 67 minutes for Madiba.

EASTERN CAPE

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa says it's now time for Nelson Mandela to be discharged from hospital.

Holomisa says he visited Madiba in hospital last week.

"I greeted him and said daddy it's Bantu here and he opened his eyes."

He says Madiba has spent too much time in hospital.

"We say now get out of that hospital."

Holomisa is planting trees and handing out food parcels with Mandela's grandson Mandla in Mvezo in the Eastern Cape.

Mandla, who has been at the centre of a family dispute over the exhumation and reburial of his relatives, urged the nation to make a positive change in someone's life today.

"Instead of passing a person look into his or her eyes and see how you can change their life. Make a person smile."

GAUTENG

The ANC will be celebrating the statesman's birthday this afternoon at the hospital where he is being treated.

Madiba's daugter Zindzi received a new smart ID card on behalf of her father.

The first smart ID cards are being handed out today as part of the celebrations.

Mandela was among the first to receive one.

Home affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa says the launch of the Smart ID Cards on Madiba's birthday is symbolic of how far the country has come since the hated pass legislation during apartheid.

"The launch of the smart ID card is a culmination of the struggle against the hated pass laws and marks a decisive departure from that period of history in South Africa."

Meanwhile, Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela says the family will be spending this special day together as a family.

WESTERN CAPE

Pupils at Edgemead High School along with their parents and teachers are celebrating the day by making 25,000 sandwiches for disadvantaged school children.

The food will be distributed to children from disadvantaged schools such as Du Noon, Ysterplaat and Durbanville.

Capetonians can leave birthday and other well wishes for Madiba at a special wall of honour at St George's Cathedral in the Cape Town CBD.

Congress of South African Trade Union's (Cosatu) Tony Ehrenreich explained what the wall represents.

"The wall of honour represents a point for people to bring birthday cards and bring gifts that can be distributed to the communities."

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille together with her staff and the Stormers rugby team are packing food hampers for the poor and needy.

A human chain linking dozens of locals and Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, along Klipfontein Road has been planned for later today.

Meanwhile, some tourists say they will spend their 67 minutes paying a visit to Robben Island.

Madiba spent 18 years of his life in prison on the island.

Some tourists say they believe their first visit to Robben Island is extra special as it coincides with Madiba's birthday.

One American tourist, who has been in South Africa for about an hour, says she headed straight from the airport to Robben Island.

A couple visiting from Germany and the United Kingdom say they cannot believe their luck that they are in the country at the same time as his birthday.

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