Will ANC leaders keep Mandela’s promise or drift?
(GIN) — Amid the torrent of nostalgic news features about South Africa’s first Black president, now ailing in the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria, it has become impossible not to hear the anxieties of ordinary South Africans who fear the country’s new leaders will abandon the Mandela promise for economic prosperity derived from a racially equal society.
“Nelson Mandela wanted everyone to be equal. He was about employment, eradicating poverty,” said Fuzile Moyake, 25, speaking at a vigil at Mandela’s hospital. “But the current government, that’s not what they’re striving for. They’re striving for me, myself and I.”
Mandela was unlike other African leaders, several said. “If every other African leader behaved in the manner he behaved, then Africa would have gone very far,” said Wesley Matlala, a 39-year-old civil servant in a press interview.
Others say the ANC has given up on many of the values Mandela stood for.
“I think that corruption and crime (are) the biggest disappointment to Mandela’s struggle and what he fought for,” said Kavisha Pillay, 21. “They let the dream down.”
Even former ANC stalwart, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, seemed ready to jump ship, from the ruling African National Congress party to the newly-formed A gang party lead by a businesswoman, struggle veteran and former partner of Black consciousness founder Steve Biko.
“I welcome Dr. (Mamphela) Ramphele’s arrival on the political landscape,” he said. “Hers is a voice worth hearing, and I look forward to the contribution she will make towards building the society we know we can become.”
National elections are slated for 2014.
Disturbing reports aside of a growing millionaire class leaving behind legions of the nation’s poor, the ANC leadership still finds much to applaud.
“South Africa is a much better place than it was in 1994, and the last five years has pushed that change forward,” said President Jacob Zuma, crediting the party’s achievements since they began governing but acknowledging there was still some way to go.
“Dealing with the massive task of rebuilding our country could not happen all at once,” he said. “There are still communities we must reach.”
All types of crime, with the exception of white-collar crime, had been reduced in the past 19 years, he said. “We also admit that the public service must still perform much better than it is doing now to speed up services.”
Zuma said the government was looking forward to the official visit of United States President Barack Obama June 28. “This is a significant visit as the U.S. is a major trade, investment, tourism and technology partner for South Africa.”
The United States had about 600 companies operating within the South African economy, he said.