Nkoana-Mashabane draws distinction between the 'real South Africa' and the 'new South Africa'

2018-01-28 13:09
International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane sits during an interview in Pretoria. (Moeletsi Mabe, Gallo Images, Sunday Times, file)

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane sits during an interview in Pretoria. (Moeletsi Mabe, Gallo Images, Sunday Times, file)

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Addis Ababa - International relations minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has thanked the world for its contribution to South Africa's freedom struggle, but drew a clear distinction between the people of the "real South Africa" and those of the "new South Africa".

Nkoana-Mashabane made the remarks at a dinner held at Addis Ababa's Sheraton Hotel on Saturday night to launch centenary celebrations of former president Nelson Mandela on the side-lines of the African Union meeting that is currently underway.

Mandela’s role in South Africa's 1994 transition and his presidency is considered to have ushered in the "new South Africa".

Referring to South Africa's freedom struggle, Nkoana-Mashabane said: "I'm talking about the people of the real South Africa, not the new South Africa. People from the real South Africa pride themselves on being the product of the freedom struggle that started in SADC [Southern African Development Community] and the world."

She said the centenary was an opportunity to thank the world for helping to produce "this youngest state, this 'free state', that is just older than South Sudan".

Empty tables

She said this 'free state' was led by President Jacob Zuma and by the "oldest political movement on African soil" - the ANC - which has declared 2018 as Mandela's centenary.

Nkoana-Mashabane also blamed the current problems in Africa on colonialism and on borders, but said the continent was "full of youthful and energetic people who are ready to free themselves".

Nkoana-Mashabane was the MC at the dinner, to which African heads of state and former heads of state were invited. Outgoing AU chairperson, president Alpha Condé of Guinea, was the only other head of state present, and he also delivered a short speech.

AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, who took over from Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in 2017, also attended and paid tribute to Madiba.

Former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo were among those also invited to the dinner, but they declined to attend.

Just over half of the tables were empty.

Many at the AU understood the dinner to be an unofficial farewell for Zuma, who during a closed meeting of the African Peer Review Mechanism made remarks in which he apparently joked this could be his last summit.

The ANC has indicated that it wanted Zuma to leave office.

At the dinner Zuma urged the audience to emulate Mandela's legacy.

"It is now in our hands to live Madiba's legacy and ensure that we create a society based on the values of ubuntu, peace, justice and selfless service," he said.

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Read more on:    anc  |  maite nkoana-mashabane  |  politics  |  east africa

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