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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Madiba’s dream of racial reconciliation has been deferred

The ANC has abandoned the icon’s dream, especially during Jacob Zuma’s reign as president, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa says, and many agree.

Today, on the fifth anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death, many believe that one man must shoulder nearly all the blame for Madiba’s dream of racial reconciliation being deferred – and that President Cyril Ramaphosa is not doing enough to achieve national cohesion.

Many South Africans have said since Mandela died on December 5, 2013, his national cohesion project had been abandoned and replaced by increased racial tension, including the resurfacing of racist terms, such as recent instances of the use of the k-word.

Mandela was known for pursuing racial reconciliation and nation building, despite accusations that he focused too much on reconciliation, instead of true black emancipation.

The United Democratic Movement’s president and personal friend of Mandela, Major-General Bantu Holomisa, believes the ANC has abandoned the icon’s dream, especially during Jacob Zuma’s reign as president.

“Madiba’s legacy of reconciliation has been trampled by his own political party leaders, especially under former president Zuma, who when he was in a tight corner used the race card to fight his personal battles. The ANC failed to rein him in,” he said.

Even the ANC’s radical economic transformation policy was not on the table until they realised the Economic Freedom Fighters party was pursuing it.

“It shows that they don’t know what they are doing. The race card issue will always be used by political parties to justify their wrongdoing,” Holomisa said.

He said the state capture inquiry was a classic example of what had been happening for years, further undermining Mandela’s legacy, with the infamous arms deal, looting at state-owned enterprises and the VBS Mutual Bank contributing to the rot.

“The solution lies in us converging under one roof as a nation, scanning the period we have travelled, identifying our mistakes and coming up with solutions. Madiba always wanted everybody to sit down and talk,” Holomisa said. “The ANC must swallow its pride and bring together all South Africans to thrash out a future based on national reconciliation.”

Congress of the People president Mosiuoa Lekota said Madiba’s legacy was still on track, but there were negative elements who sought to disrupt the foundation he and his peers had laid.

“Even in these circumstances the roots of a non-racial [society] are so deep it can no longer be uprooted. To the extent that the ruling party has been overwhelmed by misguided elements … the impression created is that non-racialism is being reversed. [But] this is an illusion which will not survive the test of time,” he said.

The Freedom Front Plus told The Citizen that Zuma not only damaged the ANC itself, but also ruined Mandela’s nation-building project, while Ramaphosa was not doing enough to mend fences.

Party leader Pieter Groenewald said: “Nelson Mandela went out of his way to unite the people of South Africa. He insisted at gatherings that people must sing the national anthem and not leave out the Afrikaans verse, but today even in parliament … when it comes to Afrikaans, they stop singing and sit down.”

Groenewald also believes the expropriation of land without compensation has further divided the nation.

“Ramaphosa is not following Nelson Mandela’s example. He does not tell people to stop the narrative that whites stole the land. Instead, he encourages it because he says injustices of the past have to be addressed,” he said.

The ANC defended itself, saying a lot had been achieved in the country to build non-racism.

“The over-arching programme of nation building and reconciliation which characterised the leadership of president Mandela remains a fundamental value that drives the current leadership.

“South Africans both black and white continue to embrace it,” Zizi Kodwa, head of the ANC presidency, said.

Kodwa said under ANC rule, South Africans had overcome racial hatred, built bridges of peace and promoted co-existence as a way of life.

Political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni, however, also believes Mandela’s nation-building project took a hard knock under Zuma.

“[He] issued statements that were negative for cohesion because he believed there was a conspiracy by whites against him.”


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