President Cyril Ramaphosa with former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA

Mvezo - President Cyril Ramaphosa and his predecessor Jacob Zuma on Wednesday, defended late former president Nelson Mandela from accusations that he was a sell out during negotiations for the country’s democracy. 

Ramaphosa and Zuma shared the stage at the Nelson Mandela centenary celebrations held at Mandela's birthplace of Mvezo in Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape.

The two leaders were invited by Mvezo Chief Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela along with other former South African presidents Kgalema Motlanthe, Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk. 

Mbeki and De Klerk did not attend, and a recorded speech of De Klerk was played at the venue. In his video speech, De Klerk said the country needed to re-evaluate itself and reflect on the values Mandela imparted on each person.

Zuma, who took to the stage first and said: "Madiba never sold out, he fought for this country." 

Zuma said the failure to build on the foundation Mandela laid brought claims that he was a sellout. 

"Madiba brought political freedom if we failed to use it to advance economic freedom let's not blame Madiba, let's blame ourselves." 

Ramaphosa said Mandela created the platform to take the struggle forward. 

"I want to stress and restress what former president Jacob Zuma said, Madiba did not sell out, underline that, Madiba did not sell out. In any fact Madiba never had in him to sell out anything," said Ramaphosa. 

He also lashed out to those who keep saying he was a sellout. 

"Those who are saying Madiba was a sell out are armchair revolutionaries," Ramaphosa said. 

The day also saw the official opening of Mvezo Clinic which is named after Mandela's mother Nosekeni Nongaphi Mandela Clinic. 

Ramaphosa said the clinic would serve the people of Mvezo who did not have a clinic in the past. 

"Madiba would be glad to see that we are still committed to his dream of assisting the elderly, people with disabilities and children with a basic monthly income of social grants," said Ramaphosa. 

He said Mandela would be very concerned about the resurgence of racism.

"There is no place of racism in South Africa, no place of tribalism in our country and no place for ethnic chauvinism in the country of Nelson Mandela."

African News Agency/ANA