South African government to honour former Jamaica prime minister

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday November 12, 2012 – Former prime minister P.J. Patterson is to receive the “Order of the Companions of O R Tambo”, which is reserved for citizens outside of South Africa who have contributed to the struggle against racism and the fight for justice, equality and democracy.

Patterson, who served as head of government from 1992 to 2006 before retiring from public life, will receive the award next year and become the second Jamaican politician to be honoured by the South African government.

Former prime minister Michael Manley was awarded posthumously in 2004.

“I am very honoured to have received the Order of Oliver Tambo. We should remember that he was the person who led the movement in exile during the days of apartheid, while Nelson Mandela and others were in prison,” Patterson said.

“I was the prime minister who signed the letter to Nelson Mandela establishing diplomatic relations between South Africa and Jamaica which had not existed, and could not have existed during the days of apartheid,” Patterson added.

The award is named after the late Oliver Tambo, one of the founding leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) and one of the most influential international mobilisers against the apartheid system in South Africa.

The announcement of Patterson’s award was made by South Africa’s minister of trade and industry, Rob Davies, during the 17th Annual Caribbean Multinational Business Conference held here over the weekend.

“The Companion of Oliver Tambo order, which is one of our national honours, is conferred on persons outside of South Africa who contributed in the struggle against racism, struggle for justice, equality democracy,” Davies said.

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