President Cyril Ramaphosa has hit hard at “armchair revolutionaries” who accuse the late Nelson Mandela of being a sellout.
In an apparent reference to EFF leader Julius Malema, who was one of those who have accused Mandela of having sold out, Ramaphosa said Madiba was never a sellout but a true blue-blooded revolutionary.
“It is armchair revolutionaries, sitting contemplating the sun, who have the audacity to think of him as a sellout,” he said.
Instead, Madiba bequeathed on people a legacy of fearlessness and instilled in them the courage to confront difficult issues. History imposed on him a heavy responsibility.
Ramaphosa, who addressed the centenary celebrations of Mandela’s birthday at Mvezo, outside Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, said Mandela and fellow members formed the ANC Youth League in 1944 with a clear purpose.
They did so because his crop of youth leaders were agitated by the slowness and timidity of their elders in the struggle and became militant. But Mandela believed militancy alone would not secure freedom; it required work and mobilisation.
They transformed the ANC into a mass-based movement and thereby changing the course of the struggle.
The Mvezo community were the main beneficiaries of the projects that were being launched in Mandela’s name.
Ramaphosa appeared intent on covering lost ground as both Mandela and his successor, Thabo Mbeki tended to “neglect” their own birth places for development when they were in power.
The president handed over three fully furnished houses to their new owners in the rural village where Mandela was born before he went to the nearby Qunu with his mother.
He also opened a R10.9 million clinic that was named after Madiba’s mother, Nosekeni Nongaphi Mandela, as a tribute to her. Nosekeni looked after the young Rolihlahla after the death of his father, Inkosi Mphakanyiswa Mandela.
Assisted by his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, and host Inkosi Mandla Mandela, Ramaphosa handed over 100 bicycles to pupils at the state-of-the-art Mandela School of Science and Technology and the nearby Makgatho Lewanika Mandela primary school in Mvezo.
A water reticulation system was opened at Mqhekezweni, another village where Mandela grew up while being groomed by then acting Thembu king Jongintaba Dalindyebo on matters of tradition, culture and education and attending church.
During the 2013 funeral of the statesman, Mqhekezweni villlagers complained about being neglected when it came to development.
The leaders, who were joined by former president Kgalema Motlanthe and Kenyan politician Raila Odinga, also planted trees outside the Mvezo Great place.
Earlier, Inkosi Mandla together with Miss World Manushi Chhillar of India, and former Miss World Rolene Strauss, handed over blankets to the elderly at Mvezo.
At the main event later, Ramaphosa addressed the centenary of Mandela’s birthday at Mvezo, an event attended by the local community, dignitaries including local and national politicians and traditional leaders.
Mandela’s birthday celebrations are held annually on July 18 to reflect on his legacy and humanitarian work. People voluntarily take 67 minutes to do community work, including painting schools and environmental clean-ups.
The phenomenon has spread internationally when it was officially declared by the United Nations in 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held in 2010.