Mandela statue at The Hague
A Nelson Mandela statue at The Hague. (Getty)
  • The Indian capital of Delhi has been supposed to get a statue of Nelson Mandela since 2013 – but it was caught up in a debate about religious encroachment on public spaces.
  • Now South Africa's honorary consul in India is pushing to finally get the Madiba statue up by January.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa is due to be an important guest for India come January, after Donald Trump turned down an invitation.

A long-delayed statue of Nelson Mandela needs to go up in India's capital before the end of January, South Africa's honorary consul to that country has reportedly told a Delhi court – before President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives.

The statue, due to stand on Nelson Mandela Marg, a five-kilometre-long road just outside the government and diplomatic heart of New Delhi, was first announced more than five years ago, while Mandela was still alive.

But a directive that sought to prevent the encroachment of religious structures on public spaces apparently also caught the Madiba statue in its net.

See also: These are some of our favourite statues of Nelson Mandela from around the world

This week a high court in Delhi sought more information on the statue from India's foreign affairs ministry, the Press Trust of India (PIT)wire service reported – and also sought the input of the country's ministry of urban development.

It is the urban development ministry that has blocked the erection of the statue, South African honorary consul to India Vikramjit Sahney told the court according to PIT, even though all required civic permissions had been obtained.

The statue had last been due to be unveiled in 2016, during a BRICS event. But now Sahney's legal team has argued in court that the statue should go up by no later than end January, when Ramaphosa is due to be an honoured guest at India's Republic Day parade.

Ramaphosa had been a Plan B after US President Donald Trump turned down an invitation to be the main guest at the celebration (because of what his administration insisted was pure scheduling trouble) – leading to speculation that other heads of state would refuse subsequent invites, to the likely embarrassment of the Indian government.

The high court application to get the statue up is next due for a hearing on 9 January, just weeks before Ramaphosa is due to land in India.

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