Parliament, Cape Town - Paying tribute to former president Nelson Mandela as a man of “mythic proportions” Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe called on South Africa and the world on Monday to consider how his legacy might be carried forward.
Speaking during a special joint sitting of Parliament's two Houses, he told MPs that Mandela's dream had not ended with his death.
“The litmus test, however, is whether the inheritors of his dream, heirs to his vision and adherents to his philosophy, will be able to make his dream, for which he lived, come to pass in the fullness of time.
“After the outpouring of grief, the celebration and reflection on Nelson Mandela's life, we will have to answer the question of how we advance that dream.”
Motlanthe called for an examination of the current world order, and the “numbed” senses and “insidious insincerity” of many world leaders who had the power and wealth to banish poverty, but had not done so.
“Why... do the majority of the world’s people, the great unwashed, live in abject poverty, when a fair distribution of the world’s resources would not even minimise the material comfort of those who wallow in luxury?
“I would submit that we cannot claim to follow in the footsteps of this inspiring leader when we have these shocking levels of poverty sitting cheek by jowl with fabulously dazzling material riches known to human history.”
Mandela had become a metaphor around the world.
“The name Nelson Mandela has entered the pantheon of history’s sages, becoming a shorthand for imperishable, trans-historical values that define human progress.”
The most enduring monument South Africans could build to his memory was to conquer racism and sexism, eradicate social inequalities, educate the masses, make health care accessible to all, and uphold a human rights culture.
“For us in South Africa, the challenge looms even larger when one considers the inevitable possibility that posterity will always look at us in the light of the Mandela experience.”
Motlanthe said this meant “showing intolerance to pathological conditions, such as theft of public resources through corruption, abuse of political power, and a host of other underhand means that rob everyday people of the meaning of freedom”.
The meaning of Mandela’s legacy also spoke to the condition of African people on the rest of the continent.
“It should revolt the rest of our continent and offend our sense of common decency, when the disproportionate number of humanity trapped in ignorance, poverty, squalor and beggarly conditions... remain African, across generations.”
If the continent's people were inspired by Mandela’s life at all, it meant there had to be a conscious and continued effort to entrench ideals of democracy in the African soil, so that democratic experience became second nature to the African mind.
There was enough under the soil and on the soil of the continent to provide for the needs of all Africans.
“All it takes to build a monument to the Mandela experience is to prevent African children from sinking into the depths of hopelessness.”
This could be achieved by empowering them with freedom, a culture of human rights, education, access to health and space for their creativity to take flight.
Mandela's legacy should also shake up those charged with the responsibility to help the developing world.
“After scores of conferences over many years by august bodies of governance on the global level, we have to ask the question why many across the globe continue to wallow in conditions of (misery).
“After multi-national companies have made stupendous profits from their commercial effort on the African continent, a legitimate question arises as to why Africans remain sweated labour, pedestrians on matters of global commerce, and frozen outside the global business mainstream, when their continent bears countless minerals beneath its soil.”
Motlanthe said it was now time for a rethink if humanity was to take Mandela's journey a step further.