Leaders should not use former president Nelson Mandela's name without understanding the quality of his message of unity and non-racialism, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said.
“It is totally pointless today to recite the name Mandela, inserting him in very sentence that we speak... when little or no heed is taken of his teachings,” Sexwale said.
Sexwale was speaking at the fourth annual Nelson Mandela Lecture at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality on Wednesday.
He said Mandela was a great leader and often criticised the young generation while simultaneously helping to shore them up as future leaders.
“Our young people of today, the economic freedom fighters, have got to draw a leaf from the lessons of this historical experience,” he said.
“At the same time, you are duty-bound not to repeat the same mistakes of the generation of Mandela which they have long since corrected.”
Sexwale said a leader should be the centre of attraction and a rallying point of his people.
He said the sowing of disunity would be the downfall of many leaders.
“Such political leaders... are destructive and can best be described as political grenades,” Sexwale said.
“Put such leaders amongst people, they always split them.”
The leaders of the Mandela-era were driven by a sense of constant willingness and readiness to serve the people, not for divisive, monetary, corruptive, selfish, sectarian and factional interests, he added.
Sexwale said a wise leader should identify threats, opportunities and anticipate them during a report-back session with people.
“A leader should expect to be booed before being wooed, to be jeered before being cheered. Therein lies the strength and effectiveness of a leader.”
On July 18, Mandela celebrated his 94th birthday. July 18 is marked as International Nelson Mandela Day, a UN-backed event. - Sapa