PRESIDENT'S BIRTHDAY MESSAGE TO MADIBA.
Letter from the President
We must strive more together to achieve Madiba's dream
The United Nations bestowed a singular honour on South Africa by declaring the 18th of July as Nelson Mandela International Day.
This was in recognition of Madiba's sterling contribution to the
achievement of justice, freedom and democracy in our country.
As we join the world to celebrate Madiba's birthday, we will be
emphasizing that he is indeed special to South Africa in many ways.
As we acknowledge the selfless contribution of this exceptional
compatriot, we need to understand him in a more holistic manner. The starting point is to appreciate Madiba the freedom fighter, the Volunteer-in-Chief of the ANC, the Umkhonto Wesizwe Commander-in-Chief and Madiba the skilful political strategist and revolutionary.
Madiba went through these phases during our long walk to freedom.
It is therefore not surprising that South Africans celebrate Madiba the way they do. He features in all critical moments on our path to freedom and democracy.
When we celebrate Madiba we also acknowledge his peers, comrades and friends. Given his humility and being schooled in ANC culture and traditions, he does not want to be recognised in isolation from others.
In this regard, we salute Raymond Mhlaba, Ahmed Kathrada Andrew Mlangeni, Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, Lillian Ngoyi, Elias Motsoaledi, Oliver Reginald Tambo, Chief Albert Luthuli, Sophie de Bruyn, Dr AB Xuma, Dr James Moroka and others to whose selfless contribution we owe this young democracy and our freedom.
From the 1940s until the dawn of freedom, he inspired millions of our people to fight relentlessly to bring about freedom, democracy, peace and stability. Supported by his comrades, provided leadership during the Defiance Campaign and put enormous pressure on the apartheid
He led from the front during the establishment of uMkhonto
Wesizwe and served its first commander in chief.
His court statements remain timeless elucidations of the rationale for our struggle.
His court statement in 1962, "Black man in a white man's court", is to this day one of the most instructive analyses of the apartheid judiciary and its lack of legitimacy in hearing the cases involving the oppressed.
In his statement from the dock in 1964, he made the most selfless declaration ever, when he said; "During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.
It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs
be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die".
Madiba remained a beacon of hope in prison, fighting for the rights of other prisoners relating to basic necessities such as food and clothes and legal assistance.
We are also grateful to Madiba for allowing himself to be used as a symbol of our liberation struggle. The ANC led by President Tambo, ran a spirited worldwide campaign, assisted by the Anti-Apartheid Movement, demanding the release of Madiba and other political prisoners.
Some call our transition from apartheid colonialism to democracy a miracle. However, we gained our freedom through hard work and selfless struggle by men and women who refused to live in bondage in their own country.
By the late 1980s, the struggle against apartheid had intensified on all fronts. Within the country, the people had defied the restriction of popular organisations such as the United Democratic Front as well as COSATU and were mobilising in massive numbers against the apartheid
regime and its surrogates.
At the same time, international pressure
was increasing, from the vocal demonstrations of ordinary citizens to the sanctions and boycotts instituted by foreign governments.
The battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola where the South African
Defence Force was humiliated by the Cuban army also exposed
vulnerability of the apartheid state militarily. The regime, feeling
the pressure, began behind-the-scenes discussions with the ANCâ€™s exile leadership and those in prison, in the person of Nelson Mandela.
When Madiba emerged from Victor Verster Prison on the 11th of February 1990, his fist in the air and with Winnie Mandela at his side, it was the culmination of all these struggles in the country, Africa and abroad.
And that was the day that South Africa changed.
The negotiations that followed were long and difficult, with many
obstacles along the way. We succeeded because we had Nelson Mandela leading the ANC and the whole country as the apartheid state leadership had no legitimacy. He led us through the painful Chris Hani assassination crisis and through the Boipatong massacre and its impact.
He led us in establishing the first democratic government with a model constitution enshrining human rights. He laid a firm foundation for reconstruction and development, transformation, building a caring society, reconciliation and nation building. He took us back to the international community as a respected member, building on the goodwill we had gained during the struggle for liberation under the leadership of President Oliver Tambo.
Eighteen years on, we have done very well in taking the transformation project forward and extending services to our people. But we have not achieved in full, the dream outlined by Madiba in his first State of the Nation Address in 1994. He said then;
"In our dreams we have a vision of all our country at play in our
sportsfields and enjoying deserved and enriching recreation in our theatres, galleries, beaches, mountains, plains and game parks, in conditions of peace, security and comfort".
We are proud to have achieved democracy, peace and security, but we are still confronted by the persistent challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
We are also faced by massive backlogs. While more people get water or electricity, more are still waiting.The more we do, the more we still need to do. This is not surprising as we are reversing a legacy of a century of systematic under-development of black people in general and
the African people in particular.
Madiba's dream is achievable if we work together across the boundaries of race, class and gender and put our country first above everything else.
We can come together as political parties and other stakeholders and build a better South Africa, or alternatively, we can continue to compete and continuously debate what went wrong where and who failed to do what, where.
As the ANC, we choose the path of working together so that we can do more to build our country. We have seen the effectiveness of such collaboration within NEDLAC, where government, business, labour and the community sector work together on various issues relating to the
economy amongst others.
We have identified the economy as a critical intervention area.
The January 8, 2011 anniversary statement of the ANC stated;
"Political emancipation without economic transformation is meaningless. That is why we have to commit ourselves to economic freedom in our lifetime, and the ANC must continue to be in the forefront of that transformation".
The ANC national Policy Conference of June 2012 has taken this
statement a step further by outlining proposals for radical social and economic transformation to be discussed by the 53rd national conference of the ANC in December, taking us to the second phase of our Transition to a National Democratic Society.
We are also prioritising improving state performance. We need a public service that is caring, efficient, effective and responsive to the needs of our people.
People who are given budgets to buy textbooks must execute that task efficiently and timeously. Those who are given budgets to give our people water or electricity supplies must do so.
Those whose jobs are to care for the sick, provide social grants to the vulnerable, assist victims of crime or handle municipal enquiries, should do so with sensitivity, efficiency and care. And if people cannot do their jobs, they should give space to those who are ready to work.
Our people have suffered enough. Those entrusted with the opportunity
and privilege to serve them should so with distinction and diligence.
We must continue to build the South Africa of Madibaâ€™s dreams, working together as all South Africans.
We must continue the long walk to freedom the he led so capably, and confront poverty, unemployment and inequality, in order to create a better life for all. That should be our contribution to Madiba's call for all of us to do something good to make our country and the world a better place for all.
Happy Birthday Madiba. The whole nation loves you dearly.
Sikufisela okuhle kodwa Tata ngosuku lwakho lokuzalwa. Ukhule njalo.
Jacob G Zuma