Former president Kgalema Motlanthe on Thursday night called on South African leaders to be “bold and selfless” as well as take time to serve their communities through volunteer programmes without using public funds.
Motlanthe addressed the 56th anniversary of the Rivonia Trial at Liliesleaf Farm, a national heritage site in Rivonia, north of Johannesburg. The event was held to honour the Rivonia trialists who were arrested at the iconic venue in 1963.
“The ANC and alliance leaders at all levels must be prepared to take extraordinary steps for the betterment of our people.
“They must volunteer and sacrifice their time and do community work … not only for elections but to have programmes of volunteerism, whereby every weekend and month there would be community activities without using state resources … they must refuse to use these opportunities to give government money to friends and relatives.”
He said leaders who were tried in the Rivonia Trial were selfless people who never believed that they were entitled to a better life while others suffered, and did not ask of others what they themselves could not do.
The 56th anniversary of the Rivonia Trial was an occasion to call for responsible leaders to have a high standard of ethics, and they must be able to plan ahead for a better society and country, Motlanthe said.
“It calls for leaders who can plan ahead so that they can liberate people from hunger, poverty and degradation. Leaders who are bold to help people understand what freedom is and instil a sense of responsibility to ensure that all our people are aware, in theory and practice, that they are their own liberators.”
All leaders in the country, he said, should take time to mentor young people.
“Leaders must adopt young people and have mentoring programmes … because the only way to train young people is to give them responsibilities. The excuse used that they are not ready only serves to threaten our future, because the youth are our future,” said Motlanthe.
“There is a general rule that states that victory goes to those who understand what the next step is … when we not clear what next step is, we invite defeat.”
On July 11, 1963, apartheid police raided Liliesleaf Farm, which was the underground headquarters of the SA Communist Party.
The raid led to the arrest of leaders of the SACP, African National Congress, and its military wing, uMkhonto weSizwe, who were charged with treason.
Some were arrested later and linked to Liliesleaf Farm.
Anti-apartheid stalwarts arrested included; Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Rusty Bernstein, Raymond Mhlaba, Bob Hepple, Govan Mbeki, Andrew Mlangeni, Elias Motsoaledi, Harold Wolpe, Lionel Bernstein, Arthur Goldreich, James Kontor, and Denis Goldberg.
Mandela was linked to operations at the farm and declared accused number one. The only two Rivonia Trial survivors, 86-year-old Goldberg and 94-year-old Mlangeni, could not make it to the commemorations on Thursday due to ill-health.
The property is now a museum and national heritage site dedicated to anti-apartheid stalwarts and their work from the premises.
– African News Agency