MEC’s Address to Staff on Mandela Day


HOD Tshepo Pharasi

Chief Directors and Senior Management

Departmental officials


Thank you for bestowing upon me this singular honour and privilege to address you on the legacy of our nation`s founding father, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

As you are aware, our beloved Madiba departed this world just as we prepared to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the achievement of freedom and democracy in South Africa. 

We would have loved for him to be with us to share and witness this important milestone, and so that we may thank him and many of his struggle contemporaries who sacrificed so much to ensure that we can today enjoy this freedom.

We have lost great leaders of our struggle. Who contributed to the cause of justice, peace and democracy.

We remember these great South Africans not only to celebrate their contribution, but to draw lessons from the lives they led and the struggles they waged.

This event provides us with an opportunity to reflect, analyse and to explore what it is we must do to take the legacy of Madiba and other liberation stalwarts forward.

Madiba has left us a legacy and we dare not squander this moment to take our struggle forward, unite our people, radically transform our society and advance the development of our country. 


It is difficult to capture in one address the meaning of Madiba`s life. It was a rich, varied and complex life which often means different things to different people. 

However, it is possible to draw some basic lessons from what we know of him.

As Madiba himself famously declared in his speech from the dock, during his lifetime he dedicated himself to this struggle of the African people. He fought against white domination and fought against black domination. 

He cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

This was an ideal he hoped to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it was an ideal for which he was prepared to die. 

Madiba dedicated his life solely to the achievement of a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.

He was a loyal and disciplined member of the African National Congress and was married to the ANC`s national democratic struggle. His convictions were informed first and foremost by the ANC`s political and ideological predispositions. 

He was convinced of the ANC`s moral authority and the correctness of its policies because what the ANC taught him tallied with his day to day experiences as a black South African.

Madiba was disciplined; even under severe conditions of prison.

He understood that he was born of an organisation that was not easily swayed by the winds of expediency and did not act recklessly in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. 

Madiba had a remarkable capacity to forgive. Even as he faced the possibility of death, torture, imprisonment and persecution, he understood that vengeance served neither the cause of his people nor the morality of its struggle.

He understood that for the country to move forward, we need to heal the divisions of the past and create a society in which all may have a place. 

Madiba was a strong and decisive leader. In the aftermath of the devastating assassination of Chris Hani, it was his strength and moral authority that calmed a country on the brink of civil war.

Under his guidance, South Africa forged ahead to finalise an interim constitution and set the date for our first democratic election. 

Like so many of his generation, Madiba sought neither fame nor personal advancement. Madiba loathed corruption, wastage of public resources and self-enrichment. He saw how such tendencies further impoverished our people and eroded our social fabric.

Madiba placed an absolute premium on education. He believed education served as an important weapon against the apartheid regime by linking people across the globe through small actions such as writing letters, pamphlets and so on. 

Today, we have to marshal the forces of education to wrestle our country from the ravages of poverty, inequality and unemployment.


There are a number of things that we can say about the life of Madiba.

In defining his legacy, we must ask ourselves whether we remain on course to achieve the vision he so bravely pursued. 

This will afford us the opportunity to open up our minds and to evaluate whether we can be as generous as he was in evaluating our work.

We have done much to preserve and enhance the legacy of Madiba over the last twenty years. At times the distance we have covered may seem so short compared to the challenges that still lie ahead, but we have undeniably made progress nonetheless. 

Indeed, 20 years after we have achieved freedom and democracy in 1994, South Africa can be proud that it has achieved part of its historic mission to end institutionalised racism.

Over the last five years alone, we have done much to address the priorities of education, health, rural development, reducing crime and corruption, and creating decent work and sustainable livelihoods, inclusive human settlements and a caring public service. 

We have had to face challenges, and we have made mistakes, but we find encouragement in what Madiba said when he left government:

The profound changes of the past four-and-half years make the distance traversed seem so short; the end so sudden. Yet with the epoch-making progress that has been made, this period could have been decades. 

South Africa is in a momentous process of change, blazing a trail towards a secure future. The time is yet to come for farewells, as many of us - by choice or circumstance - will not return.

However, there is no time to pause. The long walk is not yet over. The prize of a better life has yet to be won. 

To preserve Madiba`s legacy, we need to remember that the value of a glorious past lies in our ability to understand where we come from, where we are and what we can do differently to deepen our progress towards a better life for all.

We must remain accountable to the people. We must be far more effective and we must be more efficient in delivering services. We simply must do much more and faster. 

We have a few lessons to learn from Madiba’s life that,

The future is a better motivator than the past,

You should use your energies, skills and knowledge to empower others.

If there was one person that embodied these principles, it was Madiba. 

We, this collective are better place to invest in the education of our children so that they can in return use their education to change the world for the better.

Let us pay tribute to his memory, let us enhance his legacy, by continuing to strive each and every day to have the courage of our responsibilities and to never rest in our effort to build a better South Africa and a better world.


I thank you.