‘South Africa must build the nation Mandela fought for’

8 December 2014

Acting President Cyril Ramaphosa called on South Africans to build the kind of society to which the late former President Nelson Mandela dedicated his life.

“We must treat corruption as what it is – an assault on the poor and an affront to our liberty,” Ramaphosa said at the commemoration service at Freedom Park Pretoria on Friday to mark the first anniversary of Mandela’s passing.

Ramaphosa, who was acting president last week as Jacob Zuma was in China on a state visit, said Mandela “embodied that which is best among our people and that which is best among humanity”.

Striving

“Though we no longer feel his physical presence, his spirit continues to inspire us. It continues to fortify us. It enjoins us to continue to strive for peace, freedom and justice,” Ramaphosa said.

“Nelson Mandela taught us that people come first. Not just some people but all the people,” he said.

He said that it was only through united action that South Africa would overcome the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

“It is only through building inclusive social partnerships that we will prevail. And through such partnerships, we will overcome its legacy.”

Triumph over adversity

Ramaphosa said Mandela taught the nation that the human spirit is indeed capable of triumph over adversity.

“He taught us that it is not sufficient merely to hold true to high ideals. For progress to be made, it is necessary to turn those ideals into reality. It is necessary to theorise, to strategise, to persuade, to unite, to mobilise and to struggle tirelessly and relentlessly.”

He said government was building an economy that would benefit all, expanding both physical and social infrastructure. “We will continue to make all efforts to equip our people with the knowledge, skills and capabilities to succeed and to thrive.”

South Africa is currently participating in 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, an international campaign that runs from 25 November to 10 December.

“We remain united in our determination to end violence against women and children,” Ramaphosa said, calling on men to emulate Mandela, who respected women and loved children.

Honour the legacy

Chief Zwelivelile Mandela, the late stateman’s eldest grandson, called on South Africans to commit to rebuilding and transforming the country so that all can fully enjoy the fruits of democracy.

He said this was the best way to honour the legacy of his grandfather and the collective that he worked with.

“Each of us has the responsibility to keep his memory alive,” Chief Mandela said.

George Bizos, human rights lawyer and Mandela’s long-time friend, said he believed the legacy of Mandela was the essential worth of every individual person without regard of colour of skin, religion and views expressed.

Common destiny

Graca Machel, Mandela’s widow, also urged the country to carry on his legacy when she spoke at a wreathe-laying ceremony at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Friday morning.

“We have a common history and we have a common destiny. We are bound to live together. We have to learn to accept one another as part of the big body which is the nation.”

She said South Africans had a long way to go to overcome prejudice but “it is in the hands of each one of us to take what is your stake to close the divisions which are still within us”.

SAinfo reporter and SAnews.gov