Chief Whip’s Address, Cllr Eric Tshabalala on the last Ordinary Council Sitting held on 11 December 2013 – Tribute to Tata Madiba

Cllr TshabalalaThe Speaker, Executive Mayor, Members of the Mayoral Committee, Honourable Councillor, Officials, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The Emfuleni Local Municipality Council and ANC branch in government (Chief Whip’s Office) joins South Africans and the world at large in celebrating the life and times of the attuned leader Dr. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

The loss of the father of the nation is like that of a limb, time may heal the anguish of the wound but the loss cannot be repaired.

The world is at pain, family is morning but that’s not what this gigantic leader would have wanted, in fact he will be angry that the world is in tears instead of celebrating the contribution he has made in changing the world for the better in particular South Africa.

Let us remember that our democracy as a country owes its birth to all South Africans of different generations, of different persuasions, class, race and gender, who cast their lot in the vision of a new society, new humanity concerned about the human condition.

We have as a nation lost a pioneer to whom great lessons were drawn, patriotic and selfless in nature and character. South Africans should remember the debt we owe Mandela for his selfless service to public life. We must commit to uphold his legacy and the ideals he cherished. Madiba has selflessly devoted his time and life to the people for which the family is grateful and proud of. The family understood very well that Madiba belongs to the nation, precisely why his entire time during presidency was devoted to better and change the world whilst former president ’the then deputy president’Thabo Mbeki was charged with the responsibility to run government.

We would have been easily tempted to jealously claim him as our own, but we recognised that his towering stature as a symbol of freedom and peace transcended the rural boundaries of Qunu, his birth place, into the world for the benefit of all human kind.

The former President Thabo Mbeki says, President Mandela, Madiba, and his generation of freedom fighters walked their long walk and made enormous sacrifices which eventually led to our freedom in 1994.

He further says;“President Mandela and his generation discovered the mission of their generation. They were at all times faithful to it, as a result of which they fulfilled it. As we mourn President Mandela’s passing we must ask ourselves the fundamental question - what  shall we do to respond to the tasks of building a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa, a people centred society free of hunger, poverty, disease and inequality, as well as Africa’s renaissance, to whose attainment President Nelson Mandela dedicated his whole life”?.

Kofi Anan says, “What he taught all of us is that it is for individual African men and women – empowered and educated citizens of their countries and their continent – to take responsibility for their societies and establish accountable institutions that serve all the people and not just the elites, be they economic, political or tribal. And that is why it is so exciting to witness the development of robust civil society across the continent, determined to hold leaders and governments to account”.

South Africans should abide by the principles that Mandela fought for, especially those of mutual respect, peace and tolerance. He showed us the values needed to make the world a peaceful place. It is now left for us to preserve his legacy and keep up his ideals of a democratic South Africa that belongs to all who live in it.President JacobZuma said Mandela's death was an "unprecedented loss" for the country. South Africans should pray to remember the values of freedom, peace, forgiveness, justice and caring Mandela fought and stood for.

He preached and practised reconciliation.  President Jacob Zuma gave the example that when being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Mandela walked together with "those who were fighting yesterday [and now] they were uniting together. Mandela distinguished himself for good things and good things only.As we pray for his soul to rest in peace, may we in our daily lives make every day a Mandela day by taking the values that Mandela embodied and espoused and living by them. His legacy will not only live on in everything that has been named after him, the books, the images, the movies. It will live on in how we feel when we hear his name, the respect and love, the unity he inspired in us as a country but particularly how we relate to one-another.
There is much to celebrate about Madiba; importantly we must be custodians of his vision which to date has proved beyond reasonable doubt that life’s can be transformed and the world can be a better place to live in.

Ironically, we must with determination and zeal lead by example as Emfuleni Local Municipality. Quality service delivery becomes paramount. We must equally continue to do well in the best interest of both party and the country. Many leaders of Madiba’s calibre across so many spectrums had taught us such an indescribably vast amount. They have given us the courage to go off with the believe and drive that we can pursue new heights in new ventures.

Songezo Zibi – A Midrand Group Member says; Mandela is not unique for a leader who emerges in times of great difficulty in the life of any nation or people’s. There are many similar examples across the world and through time…

The time and circumstances gave him no choice but to pursue his ideals to the fullest extent possible. Few would disagree with Zibi’s belief that it was Mandela’s long prison sentence that turned him into a powerful symbol of South Africa’s fight for liberation but Zibi also observes, his imprisonment and freedom from raging ANC battles in exile was probably the greatest unintended gift we could have hoped for. He emerged untainted and with a clarity of mind and powerful presence that helped him hold sway at very critical moments during the 1988-94 period.

We must at the same rate, remember that Mandela never sees unintended consequences as an obstacle, never sees himself as victim and seeks to blame others for the circumstances that have come about, he takes the consequences in his stride and works together with his colleagues to find the way ahead. Like in the revonia trial, he stood up and took full responsibility for the consequences as the leader of Umkhonto we Sizweeven though a substantial part of the charges related to actions taken by his co-accused while he was already in prison. He showed no appetite to allocate blame; the quality of refusing to put himself into the mode of victim is very special in Madiba.

Mandela is rare as a politician, in that he always appears to understand very acutely the human condition and stimuli that are needed to alter people’s behaviour. He had a knack for saying and doing the right things at the right time, like wearing the green No: 6 springbok jersey when the Boks won the Rugby World Cup in 1995.Madiba understood that power of words lies not in the volume but in how you choose them.

There is near unanimity that Madiba is a product of the ANC. The ANC did have a vision and it was very well led for many years and had a series of great leaders. It is the ANC that made him, immediately prior to Mandela, Tambo led the ANC with great skill and precision. He has never been a person who says, even at the height of his power, I am the ANC, the relationship is not a one way street, he understood that just as the ANC made him, he equally helped shaped the ANC.

Another interesting observation comes from Habib, who believes that context is important, Context is not simply the structure of society, but also the ANC itself. Madiba would never have achieved the global status that he did in the 1990’s had the ANC, in the late 1970’s and 80’s, not decided to make him the face of the ANC and of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement.

It’s hard to think that South Africa’s miracle transition could have been as successful without Mandela, it must be noted that it was not Mandela alone. His direction, leadership and role was quite obvious. And the fact that he has been recognised as the father of the nationby all today exemplifies the role he played.

As we continue to celebrate his life and times, we must be consistent to the course of ensuring that people’s lives are bettered, and the only way of mastering the art is to continuously listen to people, address their challenges thus making them part of all processes including decision making all throughout.

There is a saying that we have in business, politics and community affairs: “Lift as you rise”. This seems distinctively African for it avows that an individual’s success belongs to others too and something must be given back. No special favours are intended and no one should benefit unfairly. The sentiment is community – spirited and the underlying motive is to ensure that opportunities are distributed to those who deserve them and will make the best of them.

The injunction to lift others as you yourself rise is widely understood and deeply felt in all our communities. It is an extension of Ubuntu ethic that a person is a person because of other people, or as they say in Sesotho, Motho ke motho ka batho babang.Success in life may be personal as a result of hard work and initiative but we are moved to ensure that others also benefit from our achievements.

Our efforts to contribute in the wellbeing of our society should not go asunder; in fact it is the same spirit that must keep us on our toes. The July month must be forever celebrated in the form of contributing if not giving back to the needy or disadvantaged. The African humanist worldwide impels us to regard community involvement as a central pillar of the well-led organisation.

Speaker, I am raising this to reflect and plead with our officials that they should equally contribute in bettering service delivery in our communities. The lessons they should derive from Tata Mandela must help us to change our thinking and approach in doing things. It is morally necessary and practically wise to spread benefits of the opportunities out there. The Executive Mayor would indeed agree with me that “Good Governance is attuned leadership in action”.

In conclusion, I wish to appeal to every member of the society, in particular Emfuleni residents not despair but remain firm and focused of the fact that the Country is in good hands. Our efforts must continuously help us to remain focused and relevant to the course. The vision that Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela shared with us is evidence and testimony that we must continue to put building blocks on that structure. The centre of memory is also a living testimony that history is very important and will go a long way to better shape the world. I also urge everyone to ensure that knowledge and history of the late Madiba is shared and evenly spread to our children and future generations.

To honour a life selflessly devoted to freedom of all the people of this country, all of us must devote 67 minutes of our time doing community service. July the 18th remains an important day in our calendar but we must move towards ensuring that we make every day a Mandela day.

This is the only way with which Mandela can be remembered and celebrated, no shining or gloating.

The same goes to political parties to subdue from scoring cheap political points, the environment is not conducive for such. We all need to unite and speak with one voice during these trying times. The world is watching at us with vigour and zeal, outcome of which will be an arbiter if not a precursor with which we will be judged.

Speaker, I make this clarion call precisely because I will hate to see one of the councillors irrespective of political affiliation being ridiculed by making irresponsible remarks during this difficult moment.

Let us all remain connected to the course, shaping the world for the better!

Keya leboha!

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