Ramaphosa, Mbeki laud last surviving Rivonia trialist Andrew Mlangeni on his 95th birthday
Struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni was honoured on his 95th birthday on Saturday, with President Cyril Ramaphosa lauding him for his bravery, humility and being principled.
Mlangeni, who is the last surviving Rivonia Trialist, was honoured during a webinar, which also featured former presidents, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, members of Ramaphosa’s executive and leaders of political parties.
”You are a national treasure, a national asset,” said Ramaphosa, adding that Mlangeni had served South Africa and its people well with great distinction.
He said Mlangeni was the seer that the country needed to light the way forward.
”You’ve been our conscience, a national conscience,” the president added.
According to Ramaphosa, Mlangeni had showed an unwavering commitment to the upliftment of others and was brave, honest, empathetic and principled. Mlangeni, according to Ramaphosa, never sought any high-flying position during the years he was a Member of Parliament.
Ramaphosa said Mlangeni turning 95 was a triumph as few reach such a milestone. He said the country should be grateful for Mlangeni’s health and wellbeing.
”We can never be able to thank you enough for the sacrifices you have made,” said Ramaphosa. He said Mlangeni was not arrogant, had boundless energy and enthusiasm, was committed and consistent.
Motlanthe said Mlangeni was respected by a cross section of South Africans and that his birthday filled the nation with great joy at a time when it was fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. Mlangeni was one of the most humble, respected and hardworking leaders in the country, according to Motlanthe.
He added that he lived his life with passion and action and had courage and a sense of solidarity and comradeship. Motlanthe also echoed Ramaphosa’s words and described Mlangeni as a leader who never sought to be in Cabinet or chairperson of a parliamentary committee.
”You gave the best years of your life to the country and continue to do so,” Motlanthe said.
Mbeki said Mlangeni served as an inspiration to many and set an example of what leaders should be.
”As young people we looked up to people like yourself. This is the route most of us want to follow,” he explained. Mlangeni was an inspirer, an inspirational leader and an example to all, according to Mbeki.
He said he was determined to do everything to ensure that all South Africans were free. ”You remain an example to many generations,” Mbeki added.
Mlangeni’s daughter Sylvia said she hoped he would reach 100 years.”We are proud of you, we are proud and grateful to have you in our lives,” she said.
His son Sello said his father could not celebrate his 90th and 94th birthday due to ill health and thanked the doctors who have been looking after him
”He is still going strong. We look forward to him turning 100. You have run a long race,” Sello said.
The June and Andrew Mlangeni Foundation had planned a big celebration this year but had to settle for the webinar due to restrictions on gatherings to curb the spread of Covid-19.