Cape Town – The South African Parliament, political parties and various other organisations and members of the public joined in commemorating Nelson Mandela International Day on Saturday, July 18, which would have been the iconic statesman’s 102nd birthday.
“Today, we celebrate Mandela Day during a period where Covid-19, a deadly novel virus that has changed how we interact with each other, is likely to reach its peak,” Parliament said in a statement.
“As we celebrate and honour the legacy of the founding father of our democracy, tata Nelson Mandela, we remember his words when he said, ‘May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears’.
“The choices we make individually and collectively should reflect our hope that we will win this fight against this virus. Choosing to stay at home or going out only to get essential goods, while observing all hygiene protocols, is a reflection of our collective hope that we are working to survive beyond the inconveniences brought about by the disease,” Parliament said.
Addressing a plenary of the National Assembly recently Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize had reiterated that “Covid-19 will not be defeated in hospitals but in our communities”.
“As Parliament, we would also like to urge every person living in South Africa today to ensure that whatever action they take is for the common good. The regulations that the government has put in place are designed to minimise the spread of the virus. We must follow the exemplary, selfless leadership of tata Madiba and his peers, and put the health of all around us at home and in our communities first,” the statement said.
In another statement, Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen said, “As we celebrate Mandela Day, and as many South Africans give up their time to assist those in need, we are reminded once more of all the work that still needs to be done to make our country and our economy more fair and inclusive.
“Far too many of our citizens face unimaginable hardship every day, and this situation has worsened a great deal since our economy was paralyzed by three months of lockdown,” he said.
Good deeds on Mandela Day could not remain once-off efforts. They would only have true meaning if they spurred South Africans into action to find lasting solutions to the country’s problems.
“The gestures we see on Mandela Day may not solve the many problems in our society, but what this day does is display the empathy, generosity, and ingenuity of the people of South Africa. It shows that we don’t have to always rely on a disinterested and incapable government for solutions.
“There is enough will and drive among individuals, civil society, and business to step in where government drops the ball. That is the power we must harness if we’re to rebuild our country the way we want it to be,” Steenhuisen said.
Inkatha Freedom Party founder and president emeritus Mangosuthu Buthelezi said every year as Mandela Day was marked, South Africans could be found painting walls in care centres, providing blankets to shelters, making meals for the vulnerable and giving of their time to make a difference in the lives of others.
“This year, however, the global pandemic has put paid to many of our activities. With the need for social distancing and the importance of protecting those with comorbidities, we will need to come up with innovative ways to serve and support those in need.
“I want to encourage us not to miss this opportunity to reach out and make a difference in whatever way we can, to remind South Africa of the spirit of unity and solidarity that makes us strong,” Buthelezi said.
African News Agency (ANA)