“For as long as the natural state of the black South African is poor and the natural state of the white South African is privileged, we will never succeed in building a non-racial society.”
These were the words of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday as he marked the third anniversary of former president Nelson Mandela’s death.
Ramaphosa was speaking at the event Mandela the Freedom Fighter and Mandela the Democracy Builder, hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg.
“For as long as the economic and social conditions of women are inferior to those of men, we will never succeed in building a non-sexist society,” Ramaphosa said.
He urged South Africans to be united around a common programme to achieve Nelson Mandela’s vision of “righting the wrongs of the past”.
The date of Mandela’s death (December 5) is also the date on which he was arrested with scores of others 60 years ago. Their arrest was the result of the non-racial Congress of the People that adopted the Freedom Charter as a policy blueprint for a democratic South Africa.
In total 156, people were arrested and charged with treason. All were eventually acquitted.
Leon Wessels, who served as Ramaphosa’s deputy chair of constitutional assembly, on Monday recalled Mandela’s 226-word speech on his 19th birthday, in which he urged new generations to build their own future.
“We have to forge ahead. One generation cannot bind another,” Wessels said.
He then quoted Thomas Jefferson’s proposal of reviewing a constitution every 19 years.
“The people have to own it over and over again,” Wessels said. “It can’t be isolated from public discourse.”