Former president Nelson Mandela’s dream of an economically free South Africa still needs to be realised, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday (17/07/2012).
"From the 1940s until the dawn of freedom, he inspired millions of our people to fight relentlessly to bring about freedom, democracy, peace and stability,” he wrote in an open letter to Mandela ahead of his 94th birthday on Wednesday.
”We are proud to have achieved democracy, peace and security, but we are still confronted by the persistent challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.”
Zuma said South African had ”done very well” in transforming the country, but had not achieved the ”dream” of economic freedom Mandela described in his first state of the nation address in 1994.
The African National Congress’s policy conference last month had pointed out a path to achieving Mandela’s dream.
”We are also prioritising [and] improving state performance. We need a public service that is caring, efficient, effective and responsive to the needs of our people,” Zuma said.
”People who are given budgets to buy textbooks must execute that task efficiently and timeously. Those who are given budgets to give our people water or electricity supplies must do so.”
He said those who could not fulfil their duties to assist South Africans ”should give space to those who are ready to work”.
"Madiba’s dream is achievable if we work together across the boundaries of race, class and gender and put our country first above everything else.”
Zuma said Mandela’s character was such that he was even ”a beacon of hope in prison, fighting for the rights of other prisoners relating to basic necessities, such as food and clothes and legal assistance”.
"When Madiba emerged from Victor Verster Prison, [after being released from Robben Island] on the 11th of February 1990, his fist in the air and with Winnie Mandela at his side, it was the culmination of all... struggles in the country, Africa and abroad,” he said.
”That was the day that South Africa changed. The negotiations that followed were long and difficult, with many obstacles along the way. We succeeded because we had Nelson Mandela leading the ANC and the whole country...”
He said that while some called the transition to democracy a ”miracle”, the real force for change was the ”hard work and selfless struggle by men and women who refused to live in bondage in their own country”.
"When we celebrate Madiba we also acknowledge his peers, comrades and friends. Given his humility and being schooled in ANC culture and traditions, he does not want to be recognised in isolation from others.”
Zuma saluted former members of the ANC leadership: Raymond Mhlaba, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Reginald Tambo, Albert Luthuli, Alfred Bitini Xuma, James Moroka, Govan Mbeki as well as stalwarts Ahmed Kathrada, Andrew Mlangeni, Lillian Ngoyi and Elias Motsoaledi.
”We must continue the long walk to freedom the he led so capably, and confront poverty, unemployment and inequality, in order to create a better life for all,” Zuma said.
"That should be our contribution to Madiba’s call for all of us to do something good to make our country and the world a better place for all.” - Sapa