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Politicians chuckle at Mandela's sense of humour
Among the many accolades showered on Nelson Mandela at a joint sitting of Parliament on Friday were some shining examples of his sense of humour.

Among the many accolades showered on Nelson Mandela at a joint sitting of Parliament on Friday were some shining examples of his well-known sense of humour.

During the debate in celebration of Mandela's 90th birthday, the Democratic Alliance's Tony Leon recalled an exchange in Parliament when the former president referred to the DA as a Mickey Mouse party.

Leon said he responded to Mandela's jibe by calling the African National Congress a Goofy party.

He said many years later he had undergone a by-pass operation and while in hospital, Mandela had visited him.

"I heard a knock at the door followed by Mandela's distinctive voice saying: 'Is Mickey Mouse there? This is your friend Goofy,'" Leon said to laughter.

Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Inkatha Freedom Party leader, also had a story to tell about what he called Mandela's "wicked sense of humour".

Buthelezi recalled that at an international meeting when President Thabo Mbeki was leaving the country, Mandela had not yet greeted Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

Mandela then turned to Buthelezi and said: 'Shenge, it's just past 12 o'clock and you are now acting president. Speak to Mugabe.”

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe also recalled a humorous experience with Mandela when the two had visited the town of Zeerust.

Motlanthe said extra security measures had been put in place when they arrived at the airport and snipers had been positioned behind bushes to protect the dignitaries.

Unfazed, Mandela walked up to one of the snipers with an outstretched hand and said: "How are you?"

He then proceeded to greet the next man, causing disarray among the security personnel.

Motlanthe said this was an example of the love and compassion that Mandela exuded.

London honours Mandela
Meanwhile, stars are lining up in London on Friday to mark Mandela's birthday.

Performers at the three-hour concert in Hyde Park on Friday evening are to include troubled singer Amy Winehouse, Queen and Paul Rodgers, Annie Lennox, and Leona Lewis.

They will play to a crowd of 46 664 people -- the same figure as Mandela's prison number and the name of his HIV/Aids charity.

Winehouse (24) whose participation had been thrown into doubt after treatment for emphysema, could be the highlight of the night.

She is expected to perform a version of the song Free Nelson Mandela, with composer Jerry Dammers, which became the signature song for the anti-apartheid movement in Britain.

Mandela, who has been in London all week meeting politicians, Queen Elizabeth II and celebrities, will turn 90 on July 18. - Sapa, DPA, I-Net Bridge