Johannesburg - Former president Thabo Mbeki has moved to allay fears that Nelson Mandela’s death would spell disaster for reconciliation and the country’s future.
He said while Mandela contributed significantly towards the struggle against apartheid and later peace and reconciliation, he was doing so as an “outstanding” representative of an “outstanding” party – the ANC.
At the packed Calvary Methodist Church in Midrand on Wednesday night, Mbeki said the ruling party had never preached racial hatred.
The ANC had advocated multiracialism and inclusivity as early as the 1940s.
As a result, fears that the country would collapse were unjustified because Mandela simply advanced ANC values such as non-racialism, non-sexism and common prosperity.
Mbeki said there were “some among our people” who insisted that “something wrong is going to happen” simply because Mandela had died.
Mbeki said Mandela was part of a generation which decided that the time had come to bring to an end 300 years of colonialism and took the necessary steps to ensure that outcome was achieved.
That generation, he said, fought from the 1940s until South Africa’s leaders reached a negotiated settlement in 1991, paving the way to a democratic government.
Those present on Wednesday night included former deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad, former Presidency director-general Reverend Frank Chikane and former ambassador to the UN Dumisani Kumalo.