In an historic show of confidence in the ANC in the run-up to the April 22 elections, Mandela – who was accompanied by his daughter Makaziwe, grandson Mandla and granddaughter Ndileka – arrived at the rally to get a tumultuous welcome from the crowd.
The ANC rally, originally scheduled to be held at the Idutywa Sports Stadium, had to be moved to the taxi rank open area due to the heavy rains.
Madiba rose to wave at ANC supporters and made remarks that dispelled any doubts on his political loyalty.
"Nxamalala (Jacob Zuma) has already spoken. Mine is simply to greet you. Despite the rain, you have all come here in numbers to show your commitment to the ANC. May you (ANC) live forever. Long live the ANC!"
Earlier – speaking mainly in isiXhosa – Mandela’s grandson, Mandla, told the crowds: "They (the people) have all been asking themselves on which side is the Mandela family.
"We would like to confirm that the Mandela family is in the ANC and will die members of the ANC.
"For 27 years [during Mandela’s incarceration on Robben Island] we have been here in the ANC.
"The family, including grandchildren, will be with the ANC. We have not left the ANC, we will not leave the ANC and we will die in the ANC."
In his address, Zuma described Mandela as "a legend" and "a living ANC ancestor".
Zuma devoted most of his speech to pay tribute to Mandela.
"When we see Mandela, we see our father, a brave warrior.
"When talking about Mandela, you are talking about the history of the ANC. He is the true embodiment of the organisation who led the ANC Youth League, Defiance Campaign, was Volunteer-in-Chief and Commander-in-chief.
"He is a devoted member of the ANC until the end.
"He has taught us that when there are challenges or differences in opinion within the organisation, don’t run away but stay inside to resolve them."
Zuma said the ANC was committed to ensuring a better quality of life for all South Africans.
He told the crowds: "You have the power, so use it. You have the power to vote in leaders to govern and the power to recall them when they fail you.
"When you cast your vote in elections, you demonstrate your power. If a councillor does not deliver, pass a vote of no confidence.
"This goes for the President of the Republic, Cabinet Minister, Premier, MEC and mayor."