Madiba 90

Zuma: Mandela holds us together

2008-08-02 14:44

Special Report

Mandela: SA needs good leaders

Now as much as ever, South Africa needs disciplined leaders, Nelson Mandela has said at birthday celebration in Pretoria.

Johannesburg - Former president Nelson Mandela was the glue that held the revolutionary movement together, and continues to hold the nation together, ANC president Jacob Zuma said on Saturday.

Zuma was speaking at Mandela's 90th birthday celebrations at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

He said the ANC was honoured and truly blessed to have an icon of Mandela's calibre in our midst, in our organisation and in our country.

"We know that you expect nothing from the masses of our people than to see the fulfilment of the vision of a peaceful, prosperous, non-sexist, non-racial and democratic SA."

"You have always provided leadership and direction during the most decisive moments in our history," he said.

Zuma made several references to Mandela's life during the struggle and historical moments.

In 1944, when the time came to infuse some life into the struggle to face a brutal regime, you played a key role in the formation of the ANC Youth League, he said.

"You did the same in 1949, when militancy was required, during the defiance campaign. You led from the front as you wanted an end to racial domination and hatred."

Zuma said Mandela's (M-Plan) was and still is an inspiration for the ANC.

"The M Plan should serve as an inspiration for ANC branches currently."

"We are encouraging them to establish street committees to fight crime in our communities," he said.

'Synonymous with struggle for freedom'

He also said that Mandela taught us humility, and the necessity of collective wisdom and collective leadership.

"As the struggle continued, waged internally and internationally, you represented the undying spirit of a people who would never rest until justice and human dignity were restored."

"The Mandela name became synonymous with our struggle for freedom," he said.

Reference was also made to PW Botha's offer of conditional freedom in 1985 when Mandela said in a statement that "Only free men can negotiate".

He also said that Mandela's release from prison in 1990 brought the world to a standstill.

Zuma said, when he cast a vote for the first time on April 27 1994, he carried our dreams and aspirations.

"During your term as the first President of a free SA, you elevated this country from being a pariah to a respected successful modern democracy."

"You served a very short but highly effective term before handing over to your deputy, Comrade Mbeki in a carefully planned succession strategy."

He said the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and Foundation changed the lives of many, especially children.

"You continued to work tirelessly to make SA a better country, and to put a smile on the faces of many."

"Your legacy is a book for all to read. If we do not learn, it cannot be your fault," said Zuma.

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