Making Mandela present through building the nation

Monday, August 1, 2016

By Communications Minister Faith Muthambi

This month the world came together in celebration of the life and legacy of former President Nelson Mandela, who profoundly changed our country and the world for the better.

In marking Nelson Mandela International Day, people from across the globe joined in a celebration of humanity and the triumph of the human spirit over repression and injustice by doing good.

In South Africa we are privileged to celebrate Madiba’s life during the month of July. This celebration is also a call for the next generation to take the baton of leadership and redress historical injustices and present challenges. The challenge we all face today is how best to combat poverty, inequality and unemployment to improve the lives of all South Africans.  

This month-long commemoration also came at a time when the country is trying to deal with incidents of racism that threaten nation building enterprises, social cohesion and reconciliation. Racism flies in the face of Madiba’s vision of everyone being equal, having the right to be treated without discrimination and above all enjoying equal opportunities.

Mandela was passionate about nation building and he led the charge for social justice in the country. He firmly believed that we all have the power and ability to change the world for the better. While this is indeed the case, it is often the every day contributions we make within our communities that make a meaningful difference in the lives of our families, friends and people around us. These seemingly small actions often become a groundswell to bring about the change we desire.

Madiba’s walk to freedom might have come to an end but the good work he started continues. He said “it is now in our hands to make of our world a better place”.

The major focus of this year’s Mandela Month was education and literacy, food security, shelter and infrastructure and the environment. Individuals or groups in communities throughout South Africa heeded the call and provided assistance within their communities. What was particularly encouraging leading up to July 18 and beyond, was that South Africans identified pressing needs in their communities and actively played their part to build a country and society that reflects the life and ethos of Mandela.

As we bid goodbye to this year’s Mandela Month, we should take time to reflect whether we continually live up to the former president’s passion and dedication, and if we truly make every day a Mandela Day like he did. “There is nothing I fear more than waking up without a programme that will help me bring a little happiness to those with no resources, those who are poor, illiterate, and ridden with terminal disease,” Madiba said.

The government for its part continues to live up to the ideals of the former president and through our various programmes we are making steady headway in addressing poverty, inequality, unemployment. We are accelerating the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP), which is key to growing the economy. We are using the NDP as our compass to eliminate poverty and unemployment, and reduce inequality by 2030, together with our partners in labour, civil society and business.

The government cannot do it alone; we need all South Africans to make the NDP their compass as well and in the process become active partners in building an inclusive economy, a better society and ultimately creating a better life for all.

Let us make it our responsibility to walk in the footsteps of Madiba and build a united, cohesive and prosperous South Africa. Mandela lived the qualities that all humanity must aspire to and it is within our power to contribute to a better society and move our country forward, economically and socially.

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