Mister Speaker, Deputy President, Honourable Members, Distinguished Guests and Fellow South Africans,
From the outset, let me apologise for the absence of my President, Mr Bantu Holomisa in today’s joint sitting. Mr Holomisa was unable to make it due to being busy with the funeral arrangements of our late former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
On behalf of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), I wish to join the millions here at home and abroad in extending our heartfelt condolences to the family, the African National Congress (ANC) and friends of the late former President Mandela. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this time of grief. In fact, words seem inadequate to express how sorry we are for your loss.
Fellow South Africans,
We are gathered here to undertake the sad duty of bidding farewell to an outstanding leader of the 20th century, the father of our Nation, our struggle icon and the first democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa, the late Dr Nelson Mandela.
Tata Madiba – as he was affectionately known – spent 27 years in prison fighting gallantly in order to ensure that you and I can enjoy the freedom and democracy that he and his generation of heroes and heroines did not enjoy. To Tata and his generation, no price was too high for the liberation of the peoples of Africa. This turned him into a repository for all the hopes and aspirations of our people- a duty he discharged with distinction.
When Tata came out of prison, he displayed an amazingly high capacity for forgiveness, which at times brought a look of complete incredulity in the faces of those who believed that we did not have it in ourselves to transcend our divisive political past.
Tata was however undeterred by this. He continued to epitomise the values of non-racialism, reconciliation and service to the people.
Under his sterling leadership, we demonstrated to the whole world that we too were capable of building a winning Nation, united in our diversity.
In the words of former President Thabo Mbeki and I quote: “Madiba pre-eminently represented a generation of the Titans that pulled us out of the abyss and placed us on a pedestal of hope on which we continue to rest.” End quote.
Madiba was a man of integrity, whose humanity and compassion inspires us greatly and will continue to inspire us, and future generations, for many years to come.
John Maxwell’s apt description of integrity, in his book, The Four Pillars of Leadership, captures the essence of the values that Tata Madiba espoused during his lifetime, when he says and I quote: “Integrity commits itself to character over personal gain, to people over things, to service over power, to principle over convenience, to the long view over the immediate.”
The outpouring of grief after Tata’s passing, the likes of which are rarely seen, bears testimony to this and also clearly demonstrates that he was not only thought of as just the father of our Nation, but as one of the greatest leaders and outstanding heroes of the 20th century.
One of Tata’s facets of leadership which also deserves mention here today was his willingness to listen and learn from people from all walks of life. Growing up in deep rural parts of the Eastern Cape during Tata term and watching him in action, I was always inspired by his ability to listen to opposing views and his courage to admit when he was wrong.
We should learn these important values of tolerance and humility from Tata, as they will help us in our efforts to revive his and Bishop Tutu’s vision of building a Rainbow Nation.
Fellow South Africans,
The passing of Tata, sad as it is, provides us yet another opportunity to reflect on the progress made and the distance we have come.
It should remind us that our hard-won liberty is built on a contrasting tale of men at their most evil and most heroic, and where like everything else in life, the good emerged victorious over the bad.
This is one victory that we must never betray or squander.
In this regard, the best present we can give to Tata Madiba is to preserve his legacy by espousing his values and ensuring that the torch of freedom and democracy, for which he courageously fought, continues to burn. In his eloquent words, we should ensure that: “The sun never sets on so glorious a human achievement.”
Lala ngoxolo Yem-yem, Ngqolomsila, Sophitsho, Vela Bembhentsele, Madib’ iindonga.
Ugqatso lwakho ulifezile. Aaah, Dalibhunga! Aaah, Dalibunga!
I thank you.