8 July 2013
Parliament has vowed to stay true to the legacy of former president Nelson Mandela, particularly his heritage of uniting South Africans.
The pledge was made by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Nomaindia Mfeketo, at a tribute service to Madiba at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on Friday.
Mandela remains in a critical but stable condition in the Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, where he was admitted on 8 June for a recurring lung infection.
In her address on Friday, Mfeketo recalled that in his farewell speech as outgoing president, Madiba had spoken about the multi-party character of Parliament.
On that occasion, he had paid tribute to all parties which, despite political differences, had shown their overriding commitment to the new political order, as well as ensuring that members were not a rubber stamp for government.
“These are but some of the principles and practices anchoring the legacy of Madiba as the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa in our Parliament,” Mfeketo said.
“As your Parliament and as public representatives, we will attend all multi-faith prayer services and all the other initiatives in honour of Madiba wherever they occur. We will be broad and inclusive to ensure that the legacy of Madiba, as a unifier extraordinaire, is sustained in the best manner possible.”
She said Madiba had, in his first address to a joint sitting of the two houses of Parliament, wedded himself to the vision of creating a people-centred society.
“In committing ourselves as public representatives, this is the time to focus our energies on what President Madiba pronounced when he declared that Parliament must lead the fight against the evils of poverty, disease and ignorance. We want to recommit ourselves to bettering the lives of all South Africans.”
Mfeketo said the nation had been on tenterhooks since the former statesman was hospitalised, adding that the thought of Madiba being unwell was unsettling.
“The thought of Madiba in hospital, indisposed due to illness is harrowing. This is not what we wish for our beloved hero. You [Madiba] are one of a kind. Your place in our heart is yours and yours alone. We needed you at the worst of times in our history, we need you now, and we need you for eternity,” Mfeketo said.
Friday’s tribute was organized by Parliament’s presiding officers, who, despite the institution being in recess, met and agreed to partner with the rest of society to “celebrate the legacy of our pre-eminent icon”.
In the audience, sitting side by side and united in their wish to pay tribute to Madiba, were Lindiwe Mazibuko, leader of the opposition in Parliament, politicians who had served in Mandela’s Cabinet, judges, civil society organisations and ordinary men and women.