South Africa

Tribute: 18 July International Mandela Day 

Sabotage and violence in Zuma backlash awakens spirit of Mandela as thousands come out to rebuild

Nobel Peace Prize winner and iconic political prisoner Nelson Mandela during his birthday party at the Nelson Mandela Children' Fund. (Photo: EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK)

Jacob Zuma’s exit from the political playing field, and the violence that accompanied it, has come to dominate a month usually dedicated to remembrance of Nelson Mandela and the values he and the ANC once stood for.

On Sunday, 18 July it will be Nelson Mandela’s 103rd birthday and eight years since his death in 2013 when he departed the troubled physical landscape of the country.

At the end of June, the government announced it was thrilled that 18 July had been declared by the UN as Nelson Mandela International Day.

The quote on the government home page by Mandela reads, “it is easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build”.

Jacob Zuma’s exit from the political playing field, and the subsequent attempted orchestrated and violent destabilisation of the KZN and Gauteng economies, has come to dominate a month usually dedicated to remembrance of Mandela and the values he and the ANC once stood for.

Has Mandela and his life and legacy been drowned out by the bullets and lost in the fire and smoke?

On the contrary.

While Mandela’s legacy locally as a lodestar African leader and world statesman has been mocked and ridiculed by a restless young population failed by the ANC, events this week indicate at least some of the ideals Mandela stood for are alive and well, and living all over.

In many ways Mandela’s legacy comes full circle at this critical time, and weeks before his birthday. 

Madiba not only left us with an enduring sense of humanity and foresight, but also an example of what fortitude and resilience in the face of grave challenge looks like. 

Mandela himself once was a man who was prepared to take up arms for an ideal that would see all South Africans free.

In his first interview in 1961 while on the run the 42-year-old Mandela, with his trademark side parting, spoke from a secret location of the “savage attacks on an unarmed and defenseless people”.

Back then it was the apartheid government doing the attacking and the terrorising.

This week it was, by all accounts, a shadow government loyal to kleptocratic former president Jacob Zuma, now languishing in plausible deniability in a jail cell, who orchestrated attacks on unarmed and defenseless South Africans.

These saboteurs have plotted to take the ANC and the country down with it. A country governed by the ANC, their own party, since 1997 and for 10 of those by the very same man who now sits behind bars. 

He made many rich, he made many heartless, and he made millions more poor.

Twelve “instigators” are being sought by law enforcement at the highest level. One of these may or may not be former Special Operation Unit head, Thulani Dlomo, religious zealot and Zuma’s private spy.

As the party imploded and madmen tried to take the rest of us with it – that spark of the spirit of Mandela which respected himself and others – awakened ordinary South Africans.

The pushback came from South Africans of all races and so too the clean up.

The saboteurs will continue to try to turn one against another to conceal and obscure the devastation of years of theft and looting at the highest level.

But all the signs are that Mandela has been granted a magnificent birthday gift in the magnificent response by traumatised and battered South Africans in the aftermath of the turmoil.

He has left us with a precious ancestral toolbox from which we draw.

The challenge now is to really live out Mandela’s ideals and to redirect this economy so that the working class and the poor can share in so much of the wealth there is to offer and to grow… and not just in terms of the economy but the human spirit as well.

Happy birthday Madiba. Thank you. DM

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  • “Cry the beloved country” Mr Mandela – you must be spinning in your grave seeing the mess your successors have left this country in. Whilst the calm is starting in the current situation anyone who believes this is it, is sadly mistaken. A recent interview one of the community workers in Soweto stated, “these are animals” referring to the looters. Mr Mandela, we will still, in our own way celebrate Nelson Mandela day.

    • Spot on. I can only hope that, due the illnesses later in his life, he was shielded from the increasingly unholy mess that his beloved ANC had become.

  • The sad thing is, that Zuma and his buddies, manage to do more harm to the blacks folks than the AWB, Wit Wolve and other right wings couldn’t do.

  • Chief anarchist Malema and that shrieking banshee ‘We see you’ Duduzile Zuma along with all those whose greed and bloodlust have brought us to the brink- Well, we have seen you! Sniveling cowards… small and rancid in the face of all patriots who love this country and have shown true mettle to turn the tide of evil and shout REBUILD.

  • “King Louis & his crew” covering as the unfairly “incarcerated” may have chopped off their own heads (metaphorically speaking). Stir up the disillusioned under the guise of revolution. Thwarted, for now…

    The system needs a complete overhaul. The level of response, points clearly that there is imbalance. People are hungry, uneducated, unemployed, unemployable & are no longer willing to tolerate the squalor that this system has churned out for them. To the point where a little push amounted to anarchy.

    A hangover from the past, with glaring enforced disparities, to a crew who haven’t really changed the system structurally enough for it to have a meaningful impact on the marginalised. Unemployment levels are out of control, the economy relies too heavily on a small margin of the electorate, most of whom are mobile & will up-sticks and shift off, which if this were to happen, would further exacerbate the downward spiral.

    Education, up-skilling and economic stability will impact levels of direct fixed investment (whether local or foreign). Which in turn generates jobs, keeps the wheels turning & if done fairly can improve standards of living across the board.

    Further to this, too much wealth in too few hands, fuels the flames of the discontent. The fact that the hands holding the wealth became more colourful, does not take away from the fact that too few of them, regardless of melatonin levels, hold the keys to the economy. Change the lay of the land & mountains will move.

  • Indeed, our vibrant Constitutional Democracy was built by true peacemakers and bridge-builders. The architects of our freedom were of diversified colour, genders and creeds united by the courage to achieve reconciliation over retribution and of peace over war. What’s become of those, like former President Zuma, who once held these ideals; is quite a “scary thing” to witness. This is the epitome of a broken social contract with Democracy and the people.