Reflecting on Madiba legacy

HARARE - One of his most unforgettable acts of selflessness and courage was Nelson Mandela’s decision to step down from the presidency of the newly-democratic South Africa before the end of his first term.

Recently, a sitting African president, recovered from a debilitating stroke and was roundly condemned for daring to stand for re-election.

In another African country, which shall remain nameless, a 90-year-old sitting president stood for re-election, despite howls of protest from some voters.

His health had been on-and-off for years. Almost every year, he flew to Singapore for urgent treatment.

Undeterred, the man entered the poll and won — handsomely, his people said. Others spoke of the election being “fixed.”

But there was no chance of a re-run. The ruling party scoffed at such notions.

The man had been in power since 1980.

Yet, even today, 20 years after South Africa’s transformation from apartheid to democracy, most Africans brighten up from their horrors of hunger and joblessness when they remember Mandela’s sacrifices.

It was his ill-health on which his decision to leave office was based.

Admittedly, he was already an old man. Still, many Africans felt proud to have him as the perfect example of an African leader.

Today, many Africans still reflect on their leaders’ performance in relation to Madiba’s selflessness.

In Nigeria recently, many citizens were disgusted when President Goodluck Jonathan called a “national conference” of nearly 500 highly-paid prominent citizens to plot a new strategy for this most populous (160 million) African state.

There were loud protests against the huge allowances, but the president would not budge.

Nigeria is endowed with vast natural resources, but can still not end the obscene poverty that has plagued it since independence in 1960.

There has been bloodshed on a huge scale. Civilian and military regimes all tried but failed — until a few years ago — to bring tranquillity which would ensure steady economic progress.

To this day, unemployment among the youth is one of the highest in Africa.

To this day too, there is Islamic-inspired terrorism on a huge scale.

It is true that during his brief presidency, Madiba did not specifically confront such a dilemma, not that it didn’t exist then, but there were urgent priorities.

Today, South Africa’s unemployment crisis is as serious as Nigeria’s.

There have been workers’ strikes, one of which resulted in nearly 40 striking miners being killed by the police.

President Jacob Zuma, facing problems of credibility and a commitment to honesty and dedication to the people’s cause, has not announced a sure-fire strategy to tackle the joblessness.

In Zimbabwe, unemployment is a nightmare, with the economy “in the intensive care unit”.

If illness and old age had not forced him to end his presidency prematurely, there is no telling how much Madiba would have achieved.

There are still African leaders who hold the astonishing view that Madiba did nothing spectacular during his brief presidency.

His crafting of The Rainbow Nation is described as “no big deal.”

Africans must seriously focus on the weaknesses of their leaders to confront poverty, which drove people into the struggle for nationhood.

Millions paid with their lives for their independence.

Mandela’s promise was to confront head-on problems such as poverty.

He promised a new dispensation for ordinary people, the major victims of racism.

The tragic prevalence of corruption in Africa is a major  hindrance, particularly in countries cited as the most economically vibrant — South Africa, Nigeria and Angola.

Zimbabwe too must be counted among them.

Its most desperately-deprived citizens must wish for a Mandela-like saviour.

Comments (5)

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GALLERYCARTRIDGE - 14 April 2014

The SA neo apartheid economic system dents Mandela`s leagacy! Mandela devoped cold feet and accepted a neo apatheid economi system in SA, which his sucessors are trying to rersolve unsucessfully as they fear the big stick from the WEST! Zim will recover from sanctions and Cde Mugabe`s legacy will be far better than that for the coward Madiba! Early retirement by MADIBA is no big deal at all against the neo apartheid legacy he left for others to sort out!

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Pumps - 14 April 2014

Madiba is a true African icon who brought peace to a land that everyone thought would crash & burn. Some of his contempories became envious of the worldwide accolades he received in his lifetime & after his death.

saundy - 16 April 2014

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