Nelson Mandela (1918 - 2013): Don't Betray Mandela's Legacy, Warns Mbeki
Former president Thabo Mbeki spoke firmly yesterday evening about the importance of strong leadership and honouring South Africa's constitution, in his first public address since Nelson Mandela passed away.
'Do we have the quality of leadership such as was exemplified by Nelson Mandela and others sufficient to respond to the challenges we face?' asked Mbeki who repeatedly warned against betraying Mandela's legacy and values.
Mbeki said South Africa had rightly been asked to celebrate Mandela's life instead of just mourning. 'But I don't think we should end there, we must also ask ourselves a question: What about the future? I think as we celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela, this becomes a central task: to ensure we do not betray what he and others sacrificed for.'
Mbeki's words come at a difficult time in South African politics and governance.
Mbeki was successor to Mandela, South Africa's first democratically elected president. He was ousted as president of the ANC by South Africa's current president, Jacob Zuma in a bruising succession battle. Zuma's term in office and prior years have been plagued by scandal, both personal and political, and policy indecision. Allegations of government misspending on his personal residence in Nkandla to the tune of a reported R200-million have further damaged his image.
Mbeki too had a mixed time in office, marked by Aids denialism but there has been nostalgia in some quarters for his strong policy direction and leadership.