President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africans must strive to emulate the values and principles of the late former statesman, Nelson Mandela, in order to fulfil the vision he had of a free and prosperous South Africa.
The President said this when he addressed hundreds of people, most of them the youth, at the Grand Parade in front of Cape Town City Hall, as the country commemorated the 30th anniversary of the release of Mandela from Victor Verster Prison (which is now known as Drakenstein Correctional Centre).
On 11 February 1991, President Ramaphosa was part of the delegation of leaders, who went to receive President Mandela from the gates of the prison. The struggle icon had spent 27 years in prison after being incarcerated alongside many others as a younger man in the 1960s by the apartheid government.
“As we remember Madiba on this day – 30 years after his release – let us all, each one of us, try to live in his image. Let us try to ensure that the vision he had is fulfilled, as we all work together to achieve the South we want -- a South Africa that is democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous, so that the prosperity can be shared among all of us,” he said.
Mandela’s release an emotional moment
When Mandela walked out of the gates of the Victor Verster Prison, hand-in-hand with his late wife Winne Madikizela-Mandela, to hundreds of supporters and onlookers, President Ramaphosa said that was an emotional moment that is not easy to describe.
The historic moment was broadcast live by the international media.
President Ramaphosa, who was part of the welcoming committee at the time, helped Mandela into a convoy from Paarl to the Cape Town City Hall reception.
The committee had, President Ramaphosa said, asked that the army and the police from the apartheid government not be part of Mandela’s convoy because they did not trust them and feared that they might harm the late Statesman.
President Ramaphosa quipped that amid the hullabaloo and the “complicated convoy”, they all lost the car that Mandela was being driven in “for hours”.
When they eventually found him, Mandela went on to deliver a historic speech to supporters, who had waited for years to hear his voice once again ever since his arrest in KwaZulu-Natal.
Despite doomsayers stating that South Africa’s economy and state of affairs could not be pulled out of the hole it was in, given the damage done by the apartheid government, South Africa successfully navigated its way through the CODESA negotiations, formed a democratic government and turned the economy around under the leadership of Mandela, who became affectionately known as Madiba (his clan name).
Need to intensify efforts to make good on Madiba’s promise
The President said, meanwhile, that the country is faced with numerous challenges and that to tackle them, it is important for the country to make good on Madiba’s promise.
“Today we are at a decisive moment as well as a nation. We know that our country is facing many challenges. We too can no longer wait.
“The state of the economy, the high levels of unemployment, the social ills wreaking havoc in our communities, the shameful killing of women and girls, the stench of corruption and abuse of public funds have led to a trust deficit with our citizens, and this threatens to reverse our democratic gains.
“[On Thursday], I will be delivering the State of the Nation Address in Parliament to report back to the people of South Africa on what we have done and what we have not succeeded in doing over the past year. We will also talk frankly about how we should chart a new course for the year ahead.
“Millions of our people continue to live in poverty. Millions of our people, especially young people, are unemployed. The divide between the haves and the have nots continues to widen.
“We must intensify our efforts to make good on the promise made by Madiba and his generation of leaders to bring a better life to our people, especially young people, who have come out in their numbers today and who, despite our many challenges, see this country as a place of promise and opportunity.
“Madiba advocated the empowerment of young people and the empowerment of women in all respects, and their role in decision-making, not only in his party but in government, society and business,” said President Ramaphosa. – SAnews.gov.za