Best thing we can do for Madiba: a decent funeral – Gwede Mantashe

2013-12-08 15:40

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The best thing we can do for former president Nelson Mandela is a decent funeral, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has said, adding that Mandela knew “the day you die is better than the day you were born”.

Addressing thousands of Twelve Apostle Church (TAC) members in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape today, Mantashe also said South Africa was a better place than it had been before 1994 because of Nelson Mandela.

TAC members had filled to capacity the Rotary Stadium in Ngangelizwe to pray for Madiba.

“Today South Africa is better than what it was because Nelson Mandela helped us cross the river to the promised land,” Mantashe said, to loud applause from the congregation.

Mandela died on Thursday night at his home in Houghton in Johannesburg after a long illness. He was 95 years old.

Mantashe said the ANC had decided that it would visit churches today to pray for Madiba together with the people.

He said South Africa owed a lot of what it had achieved to the world icon.

In highlighting Madiba and the ANC government’s achievements, Mantashe said the life of black people in general had changed for the better.

“In 1994 there were 150 000 black students in tertiary education. Today there are 750 000 black students doing tertiary education. Over the last ten years there has been a 250% increase of the black middle-class in South Africa. We need to thank the likes of Mandela who left us not only with a brighter future but a vision for the future,” Mantashe said.

He said in the 10 days of mourning and celebrating Mandela’s life the churches have a fundamental role to play.

“You must continue to pray for us as you did during the dark days of Mandela’s imprisonment,” Mantashe said.

The ANC secretary-general, who was flanked by his provincial counterpart, Oscar Mabuyane, and Premier Noxolo Kiviet and her cabinet, said Madiba’s was a life well lived.

He said men like Mandela were both products and makers of history.

The ANC had a number of events today in the Eastern Cape. The event in Rotary Stadium was followed by an interfaith prayer service at the OR Tambo Hall in Mthatha.

An event at Mandela’s house in Qunu was cancelled because the family would still be in Johannesburg.

Madiba will be laid to rest in Qunu on his farm next to his three late children, Thembekile, Makgatho and baby Makaziwe.

He will be buried there next Sunday.

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