Mandela hails Obama after election victory

Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela on Wednesday congratulated United States president-elect Barack Obama on his election victory, saying he was an inspiration to people all over the world.

“Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place,” Mandela said in a letter to Obama.

“We note and applaud your commitment to supporting the cause of peace and security around the world. We trust that you will also make it the mission of your presidency to combat the scourge of poverty and disease everywhere.

“We wish you strength and fortitude in the challenging days and years that lie ahead. We are sure you will ultimately achieve your dream of making the United States of America a full partner in a community of nations committed to peace and prosperity for all,” said Mandela.

Obama became the world power’s first black president as his Republican rival, John McCain, conceded defeat in historic elections.

South African leaders congratulated him, expressing hope that his election would place Africa’s problems higher on the global agenda.

“Your election to this high office of the American people carries with it hope for millions of your countrymen and -women, as much as it does for millions of people of particularly the African descent both in the continent of Africa as well as those in the diaspora,” President Kgalema Motlanthe said in a statement.

“We express the hope that poverty and under-development in Africa, which remain a challenge for humanity, will indeed continue to receive a greater attention of the focus of the new administration,” added Motlanthe.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) said it expected South Africa to maintain its strong relationship of “mutual respect and cooperation” with the US.

“The ANC is confident that the Obama administration will work to strengthen ties between the United States and Africa, building on development initiatives already in place, forging a genuine partnership to tackle the challenges facing the continent,” said ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte.

‘Anyone can change the world’
Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said Obama’s election conveyed “a powerful message that the politics of race is on the way out”.

“His ascent to the presidency shows that in politics, nothing is inevitable ...

“It demonstrates that through hard work and access to opportunity, anyone can change the world,” said Zille.

“Hopefully, here in South Africa, we will learn from Obama’s success, and take the politics of the open, opportunity society to heart.”

ANC breakaway movement leader Mosiuoa Lekota said Obama’s victory signified “the strength of the will of the people who are hungry for change”.

“It demonstrates that in a democracy, people have the power to change the course of their lives, the course of history.

“As South Africans, we achieved this in 1994 as the world watched in disbelief ... Let us not be afraid to summon the hope and courage that will bring about the changes that will revive our hard-earned democracy,” said Lekota.

He added that his new political party, to be launched on December 16, would promote the same values as Obama.

These includes “human solidarity and human decency; respect for the intrinsic worth of every citizen; care for the vulnerable in society; the protection of the global environment; and the sustained pursuit of the goal of a better life for working people”, said Lekota.

Patricia de Lille of the Independent Democrats also conveyed congratulations to Obama, “my brother, on his historic win”.

“We agree with him that, yes, we can change the world, yes, we can bridge the racial divides that still exist in the 21st century and yes, we can bring hope to the world,” De Lille said.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) described Obama’s election as an “exceptional achievement”.

“This result is a huge step forward in the battle to defeat racism and discrimination in the US and around the world…

“We fear, however, that the campaign pledges to protect American jobs and oppose the outsourcing of investment and jobs to developing countries,” added Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven.

The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) said Obama’s election signalled “a period of great change in a world that desperately needs it”.

Archbishop Njongo Ndungane, founder of African Monitor, said Obama’s election was “good for Africa”.

“We look forward to strengthening our relationship in fostering Africa’s development,” said Ndungane.

The Democrats Abroad South Africa said there were 20 000 registered US citizens in South Africa and that most of them voted.—Sapa

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