Ramaphosa celebrates Thabo Mbeki's character in a birthday message

Former president, Thabo Mbeki turned 80 on Saturday, and was honoured at a dinner celebration in Sandton.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa and former President Thabo Mbeki. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has celebrated former president, Thabo Mbeki - who turned 80 on Saturday.

Mbeki - who was the President of South Africa between the years 1999 and 2008 - marked this major milestone in a glitzy dinner celebration in Sandton on Saturday night, attended by amongst other dignitaries, former statesman, Kgalema Motlanthe.

In a pre-recorded message, Ramaphosa praised Mbeki, saying that he continues to enrich South Africa's public life with his presence, council and participation.

"It is cause for celebration to have reached this milestone and good health, carried by a good spirit and as always, wonderful humour. 80 years is said to be an oak jubilee where the oak tree symbolises strength, endurance and wisdom. Such is your place in South Africa’s public life.

"You continue to enrich our country's public life with your presence, your participation and your counsel."

Ramaphosa also thanked Mbeki for his advice over the years.

It is an honour for me and the government that I lead to have been able to count on you for advice and support over the years. It has been a comfort to us, and to me personally, to know we continue to rely on your honesty when we are not living up to the expectations of our people.

President Cyril Ramaphosa