Remembering Madiba: If he were still alive, what would he think of SA in 2017?

JOHANNESBURG — Yesterday marked four years since former South African President, Nelson Mandela, passed away. As this piece highlights, a lot has happened in South Africa since his passing. And with the ANC’s crucial December elective conference upon us, one wonders if the ANC can reinvent itself and get back on track with the right leadership team. – Gareth van Zyl

By the FW de Klerk Foundation*
Former South African President Nelson Mandela

It is today four years since South Africa mourned the passing of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the first President of the democratic and non-racial South Africa. And even though this is a short time in the life of a country, it seems much longer. This feeling originates from the fact that in the last four years, the country has moved almost a lifetime away from Madiba’s South Africa. During, and for some time after his presidency, South Africa was the country of hope, of reconciliation, of an active reconstruction and development programme, and of a public service with a motto such as batho pele, the people first.

Even within his beloved ANC, countless leaders have asked the question of what Madiba would have thought of the South Africa of 2017. A South Africa where hope has all but left even the most patriotic of South Africans, where reconciliation has been replaced with racialisation and intolerance, where not even the most basic of government programmes are implemented and service delivery has grinded to a halt, where the motto of the public service is, with only a few exceptions, ke pele, me first. Those same leaders answered their own question: He would have been pained, sad and furious. Lack of leadership, corruption and state capture are far from the ideal society Madiba had envisaged for the nation.

We as a country miss you, Madiba. We miss your fearless leadership, your honesty and integrity, your unrelenting drive for non-racialism and reconciliation. We miss the fact that you deemed yourself not to be above the law, and remained a servant to the people. We miss your compassion for the poor and our humanity. We know that you were not infallible, an ordinary but gifted human being. But we appreciate now even more that you served your people in the best way that you could – in strict accordance with the Constitution that is your ultimate legacy.

We at the FW de Klerk Foundation, with our founder, the co-recipient of your Nobel Peace Prize, mourn your passing. We do so not in desperation, but with a strong resolve to honour your legacy in the best way we can – to uphold and protect the Constitution, and to hold all politicians and other leaders accountable to that ultimate guideline.

  • The FW de Klerk Foundation promotes and preserves FW de Klerk’s presidential heritage by supporting the causes for which he worked during his presidency.
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