‘Mandela was was not only a humble man, but a strong-willed political leader’

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Members of the then Release Mandela Reception Committee have described Nelson Mandela as a selfless leader who prioritised the needs of South Africans.

Former committee members say the fact that Mandela endeavoured for peace and stability in the country, was an indication that he was not only a humble man, but a strong-willed political leader. They were speaking at the launch of the Nelson Mandela centenary commemoration in Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape.

Businessman, Saki Macozoma, and the former director for public prosecution, Bulelani Ngcuka, served on the reception committee. They and others started sharing stories about the release of Nelson Mandela from prison. But they were soon talking about current matters saying the country has moved away from the values Mandela stood for.

Advocate Ngcuka says Nelson Mandela provided the people of South Africa with a solid and world class constitution. He says the problem is that the current leadership fails to implement policies.

He says, “The problem is not about Mandela, it is about us having let down Mandela , when you look at our organization today you do not see the organization of Mandela, it has got challenges. Many challenges and these challenges are caused by us not by Mandela. In our constitution we make provision for the expropriation of land, that section has never been used. It is us who have not given back the land to our people, not the law. That is the legacy of Mandela; it is the constitution that he has given to us.”

Macozoma described Nelson Mandela as an astute politician who could foresee potential pitfalls.

Macozoma said, “He said, when leaders of this calibre are incapable of seeing what needs to be done, this movement is in trouble. It is the same vain when he dealt with De Klerk, the whole of South Africa was impressed that it turns out that this man is actually not a Teddy Bear, it’s a vicious politician.”

Advocate Dali Mpofu was also part of the Reception Committee 28 years ago. He urged young people to use the tools available to them to challenge wrongdoing.

Mpofu says, “When Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Sisulu and others changed the ANC in 1944 for good to be what is now, there would be no ANC if they did not do that. When Steve Biko changed the face of this country he was in his 27 to 28, When Martin Luther King shook the Americans he was in his early thirties, so if you really want anything to change, you must make sure that young people take the revolution by the scruff of its neck and take it to its direction, even if those of us who are old are kicking and screaming.”

Madiba’s grandson, Ndaba Mandela, says he is optimistic that the ANC will remain intact after the current transitional phase.

“Unity is so key, let us not forget where we come from, and let us not forget how we were able to win this freedom to succeed in the liberation movement. Yes we are going through a transitional period in our country but this time will pass, some of us don’t have a choice to go and jump to another ship when the ship goes down, I go down. So comrades, let us let this stage pass and we shall continue to rebuild this organisation that our parents died for.”

An APP was also launched by Minister of Tourism Thoko Xas; to link tourists to a hundred Mandela related tourism destinations.

The minister says, “We are launching an APP where we want to identify hundred places throughout South Africa that would lead us to have attractions, infrastructure, SMMEs  that will develop skills that will develop young people to man those attractions and give our tourists, domestically and internationally those experiences they are looking for around this legend.”

The CEO of the National Heritage Council, Advocate Sonwabile Mangcotywa, says the launch of Nelson Mandela’s Centenary celebrations at his home town of Mthatha points to the rural heritage associated with the former statesman.

“There will be no tourism without heritage because heritage informs the content, for the product. Tourists want to come here because there is something important. I was looking at the figures of the Tourism Board, their target for instance; they would love to ensure so many figures from international tourists. In order for us to reach that target, it depends on the content and we are the custodians of content.”

The Department of Tourism, the National Heritage Council, the Nelson Mandela Museum and the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture have joined hands to put together a documentary that will preserve the untold stories about Nelson Rholihlala Mandela.