Staff Reporter, Bloemfontein
SOUTH Africa’s first democratically elected president Nelson Mandela was much more than just a comrade to Free State Premier Ace Magashule.
Speaking to the Free State Times through his official spokesperson, Mondli Mvambi, shortly after the announcement by President Jacob Zuma of the passing of the statesman last night, Magashule said he had learnt many valuable lessons from Mandela.
“This founding father of democratic South Africa was more than just a comrade to me, he touched my life and that of many freedom fighters in the most profound way,” Magashule said.
“He taught us to be humble and humane in the quest of building a proud South Africa that was to become a significant player in the community of nations.”
The premier said Madiba, as Mandela was affectionately known, had taught them to forgive and cement instruments of lasting peace by engendering a sense of pride and restoring the dignity of Africans within a non-racial global society.
“We have been guided by his high level of revolutionary morality,” said Magashule, who is also the ANC provincial chairman.
“On behalf of the people of the Free State province, I join President Zuma in sending our condolences to his wife, family, grand and great grandchildren.
“We will sorely miss this untainted Isithwalandwe.”
In a statement released last night, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the nation had lost a “colossus, an epitome of humility, equality, justice, peace and the hope of millions, here and abroad”.
Mantashe said Mandela “loved the ANC, hence his frequent words that upon his death he would join ‘the nearest branch of the ANC in heaven’”.
He said Mandela had assumed various leadership positions and served with distinction.
“The ANC sent its condolences to the entire Mandela family. He was as much yours as he was ours. Probably his dedication to the ANC family robbed you of a father,” Mantashe said.
“We will, from this minute on, as always, walk this journey with you to the end.”
Mantashe urged South Africans to participate in all activities organised in Mandela’s honour in a disciplined and respectful manner.
The South African National Civil Organisation (Sanco) said Mandela had taken the people of this country from a dark place and brought them democracy.
Peter Tamai, Sanco’s provincial deputy chairman, said the organisation would be forever grateful for the sacrifices that were made by Mandela.
He said he felt honoured to have lived in the same era as the iconic Mandela.
“We are the country that we are because of him and the role that he played in the lives of South Africans. He was a selfless leader who put the people of this country and the world before himself and we will honour him always,” Tamai said.
For others it would be what the country does with the legacy that was important.
Cosatu provincial chairman Sam Mashinini said it was time for all South Africans and people of the world to come together.
“This is the time that we have to make sure that what he believed in is taken forward. And the workers in this country are saddened by the passing of Tata Mandela and we would like to say to the family we have also lost a pillar,” Mashinini said.
The opposition DA’s Free State leader Patricia Kopane said we have to keep in mind the values that Mandela held for South Africa.
“This is a more difficult time than when he was alive, now we have to unite in our grief and hold hands in our mourning. But the big question is now that Mandela is gone what are we going to do,” she said.
Kopane said the country knew that a time when Mandela would die was coming “but it feels so unreal now that it has happened”.
“But most importantly this is the time to celebrate a life well lived,” she said.
Congress of the People’s provincial legislature member, Mzwandile Hleko, said it would be in the best interest of the country to continue with the ideals that were carried by Mandela.
Hleko said Mandela was a warm person who touched many lives through his sacrifices and work.
He said Mandela had foresight for the country and his teachings and beliefs had to be carried forward so that the country could keep its democracy alive.
“It is up to us to continue where he left off and to work making this a prosperous country as he would have wanted it to be. This is a democracy that was fought hard for and we need to fight just as hard to keep it,” Hleko said.
Mangaung Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Nancy de Sousa said Mandela was a beacon of hope to many people who was able to have a positive influence not only in the country but in the entire world.
She said she hoped that the ANC would take a leaf from how Mandela had led the party and the country.
“I hope that those who have the task of carrying the ANC forward will use his legacy and step up and take guidance from him,” de Sousa said.