Mandela legasy - To be Comrades

The political parties have all announced themselves to be advancing the values of Nelson Mandela and the vision of the freedom charter.  They may have in some way served our people in the battle against apartheid , and so we do no doubt the concerns in there hearts for our people, and we appreciate there contributions.

 But to be a comrade is to distinguise yourself in your conduct , and through  the vision you hold for the future and how much your are prepared to do for that new South Africa relative to your position.  Its  not about  how you compare to another , its how you articulate and contribute to a new South Africa.  When you say that you are committed to realise the ambitions of Tata Mandela , the test is where you stand on the following important questions;

Do you believe that we should build integrated non racial communities , where the dignity and commonness of our people count for more than house prices. Will you build affordable houses, on Government land  in Constantia, for poorer working families.

Do you believe and call for  a situation where the learners from the Cape flats [ Khalitsha and Mitchells Plain] deserve the same educational fascilities and opportunities as the learners from the shadows of Table Mountain, Constantia. Do you work for the same things for other peoples kids, that you want for your own, inviting poor kids to a rich Claremmont school.

Do you call for workers rights and appreciate the fact that workers rights are an important human rights in South Africa and is in fact the way in which redistribution happens between the high profits and low wages, that we inherited from Apartheid.

Do you make yourself available 24/7 for our people, living amongst them . Not only trying to create the media  impression of a busy life in service , whilst fliting around the country in Corporate jets in overdressed suits.

Do you live your values ,not taking 2 salaries for doing the same job. Appreciating that some in our country have so little because others have so much . and through your own actions and commitment contributing to greater Equality in SA.

DO you call for an end to farm evictions, for rights of Farmworkers to sections of land to plant there own crops , on the land that was stolen by farmers, or on 99 year leases for Government land, signed just before 1994 by farmers.

Do you raise your voice on all injustices no matter who the perpetrators , whilst never resorting to the cynicism that is the poison to hope , for short term political gains. Never reigniting the Apartheid fears for political office.

Will you take an unknown family into your house for 3 years , who have lost theirs in a fire. Will you stand in front of protesters who are being fired upon by police, to defend the woman from being hurt. Will you use you wages to pay for an unknown unemployed worker, to have a job opportunity. Will you declare that your salary is too much in relation to those who you serve, because it perpetuates inequalities. Will you aspire to do the right thing , not only less wrong than others, for political office.

These are the values of Nelson Mandela , this is what it means to be a comrade. Many unfortunately fall short ,both in the ANC  and in other political parties, because their personal greed strangles a generous possibility. But do you call for this , are you trying to realise it , or do you use the language of Mandela to hide your desire to perpetuate the Apartheid great divide, and priviledge for a few. The greatest revealer of your private virtues and the public values that you aspire to, is whether you will publicly call for the noble and legitimate ambitions of all our people . You cannot be half a Mandela [ comrade] , you cant only want to emulate the parts of Mandela that is easy and that you agree with. It is the hard things that comrades do that distinguishes them from others. They do all of this because, the greatest love a comrade shows is the love for all their people. You stand either on the side of justice or the side of injustice, that choice will define whether you are emulating Tata Mandela , not just empty words. Everyone is called to that noble ideal, everyones contributions is welcomed , but its how you live your life that will earn you the right to claim the legacy of Mandela.

Tony Ehrenreich
Cosatu Provincial Secretary