Zuma vows to continue Mandela's legacy

Matuma Letsoalo

President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday that while Nelson Mandela's long walk to freedom had come to an end, "our journey continues".

South African President Jacob Zuma, late former president Nelson Mandela's widow Graça Machel (right) and ex-wife Winnie Mandela Madikizela at his funeral in Qunu on December 15. (Edmond Jiyane, AFP)

As the world bid Nelson Mandela farewell on Sunday, President Jacob Zuma vowed to carry on his legacy of reconciliation.

"One thing we can assure you as you take your final step, is that South Africa will continue to do [what you wished for]. We will not rest until the majority [of our people] benefit from the fruits of freedom you fought for so hard," said Zuma who has been under pressure to step down because he failed to live up to Madiba's legacy.

Delivering his eulogy at Mandela funeral in Qunu on Sunday, Zuma said: "We will continue to work hard to reduce unemployment and inequality, create decent jobs and [an] accountable public service. We pledge today to continue promoting non-racialism and tolerance in our country and to build a South Africa that truly belongs to all. We also cherish the lessons you taught us, of the importance of reconciliation, forgiveness and compassion. You forgave those who had taken away most of your adult life and who had dehumanised the majority of your compatriots. We learned from you, that to build a new South Africa from the ashes of apartheid colonialism, we needed to rise above anger and the human desire for retribution," said Zuma. 

He said his government would continue to use education as a weapon to improve the quality of lives.

"South African children must grow in a country free of crime, poverty, ignorance, disease and indignity. That is the kind of culture we are pursuing. We will continue to rise because we dare not fail you. We sincerely thank you and thank your family for sharing you with us. Thank you for being everything we wanted for being a leader," said Zuma.

He said while Mandela’s long walk to freedom had come to an end, "our journey continues".

"We will always remember you as a man of integrity who embodied the values and principles that your organisation, the ANC promotes. These are unity, selflessness, sacrifice, collective leadership, humility, honesty, discipline, hard work and mutual respect. We will promote these values and practise them, in order to build the type of society you wanted. That society is outlined in the ideals you espoused, the ideals you lived for and which you were prepared to die for," said Zuma.

Meanwhile, some within the ANC believe Zuma has failed to live up to the values that Mandela espoused. He was booed by a some ANC supporters who attended the Mandela memorial service for at the FNB stadium on Tuesday.

'Zuma should step down'

The Sunday Times said a survey showed 51% of registered ANC supporters said Zuma should step down.

Of the 1 000 ANC voters polled in a representative survey, 33% said they were less likely to vote for the ANC over allegations that Zuma used public money to upgrade his private residence at Nkandla to the tune of about R200-million.

Earlier on Sunday, chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima condemned the booing of Zuma, saying the incident muddied Madiba’s legacy. Matanzima, who represents the Mandela family, said he hoped the incident would never happen again.

Zuma thanked Madiba’s former wives Evelyn Mase and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and his widow Graça Machel, for their role in Madiba’s life.

"We acknowledge Comrade Winnie Madikizela-Mandela who kept your [Madiba] name alive and provided support and strength throughout the difficult years. When the ANC was banned, she refused to be silenced and carried on the struggle with amazing bravery. She was persecuted severely for standing by you and for remaining resolute in the pursuit of a free, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united South Africa. We are proud of the contribution that she has made to the struggle for the liberation of our country, as an activist and leader in her own name and right. We thank your dear wife, mam' Graça Machel, who has been at your side providing love, strength, and companionship. The past year has not been easy for her due to your ill health. She ensured your care and comfort, until the final moments. Given mam’ Graça’s own passion for children’s rights and wellbeing, the two of you made a formidable pair, for the benefit of children," said Zuma

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