Although Nelson Mandela did not remain active in politics after stepping down as president in 1998, he was a firm adviser and steered the ANC in positive directions. He was known as a man not to endorse a candidate within the ANC party when elections were being held for national elections, and did not attend the conference to elect a new leader in 2007. It was his custom to support the ANC and whoever was elected as its leader would earn the respect and support of Nelson Mandela.
During 2007 before the new ANC president was elected for the upcoming national elections, strife and problems existed within the national executive committee. Current president at that time, Thabo Mbeki was up against Jacob Zuma. The intense rivalry within the two camps caused a division within the party and the internal politics was disturbing to Mandela and others who had sacrificed and worked so hard for the freedom of the country.
Former President Nelson Mandela did praise Jacob Zuma as the man who could unite the divided party. In his message of congratulations, Mandela said that his experience of Comrade Zuma is of a person and leader who is inclusive in his approach, a unifier, and one who values reconciliation and collective leadership. He continued and said there was no doubt that Jacob Zuma would bring those well-known characteristics to his task of leading the ANC organization.
This was during 2007, just after Jacob Zuma won the top position within the ANC organization. It was also at this time that the first rumors of Nelson Mandela’s health issues were reported, and clearly denied and covered up and so the story continues to this day.
Jacob Zuma at that time was quoted “as the leader who will never fail his people.” The ANC KwaZulu-Natal secretary Johan Mchunu said that Zuma was a tried and tested leader, a man of honor and integrity, and one who will be the country’s greatest president.
Zuma was then compared to the founder and first president of the ANC Dr John Langalibalele Dube, a liberator, activist and a man of his people. There was relentless praise for Zuma and how he would remain passionate about education.
Comparing the president of South Africa Jacob Zuma to Dr John Langalibalele Dube, the a compassionate patriot and pioneer founder of the ANC is an insult. It was on January 9 1912 that the South African Native National Congress was formed and hence the 100-year journey of a selfless struggle began. Dr Dube was a leader, teacher, historian, preacher, and newspaper editor among other achievements. His legacy encapsulated African unity, self-reliance, quality education and a tireless fight for equality and freedom. He visited America during the period of the civil rights struggle by African Americans and was profoundly influenced by Booker T. Washington, the Afro-American educator and politician. His top priority was education, and he fought this battle over the years while turning shacks into schools to bring light, and a better life, to the many that remained ignorant.
To compare Jacob Zuma to this remarkable man is a given insult, and reviewing the Nelson Mandela comments about Zuma, may well be considered that he was indeed perhaps ill at that time and could not focus on the truth.
Mandela could be compared to the great Dr Dube as it is has been his legacy to educate people. Nelson Mandela followed a revered leader. Jacob Zuma has only destroyed a legacy, which could have freed so many people.
Written by Laura Oneale