Durban - Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday described South Africa’s ability to achieve a relatively peaceful transition from the apartheid era to democracy as an awe-inspiring achievement that required patience, commitment, strong leadership and a true desire for peace from all parties involved.
He was speaking at the first Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi annual lecture at Durban’s ICC where guests included Zulu King Misuzulu KaZwelithini, businessman Vivian Reddy, advocate Dali Mpofu and former ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
“South Africa was blessed with so many leaders who were all active at the same time. Buthelezi was a significant player during a crucial period in the country, Africa and world history. The country was on the brink of civil war but ultimately it led to democracy.”
Obasanjo said while the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a crucial aspect of reconciliation at the time, the less celebrated aspect was the government of national unity.
“As Minister of Home Affairs in that government, Buthelezi worked side by side with political adversaries. You worked together to build a better future and those who were once enemies were capable of working together, almost seamlessly for the good of the people.”
Obasanjo said it was his hope that the IFP and ANC would find togetherness in the not-too-distant future.
“The object of removing the apartheid government has been met, but the object of welfare and well-being of the people of South Africa has not been achieved. For that objective we need commonality of means and not different means.”
King Misuzulu KaZwelithini said it was important to celebrate and acknowledge Buthelezi’s contribution, describing him as one of the greatest leaders in the southern hemisphere.
Buthelezi said it was hope which would sustain the continent in pursuit of Africa’s highest expectations.
“I want to thank His Excellency Dr Obasanjo, for telling us the truth today. It is only when we work with facts and truth, that we are able to overcome obstacles, solve problems and achieve our full potential.’’