Nelson Mandela, …. 1918 to 2013 – Nelson Mandela died yesterday, 95 years old.
Editor: This article is published under Section 117 for research, study, and educational purposes.
Mandela’s achievements live in contrast to South Africa’s neighbours
South Africa has many problems, but shines in comparison to neighbouring Zimbabwe, which has crumbled under the savage rule of Robert Mugabe into one…
If you want an idea of the remarkable nature of Nelson Mandela and his accomplishments in South Africa, one of the easiest ways is to compare his country to the decrepit backwater that exists just across its northern border in Zimbabwe.
At one time the two were similar: both were run by a white minority that brutalized the black majority and institutionalized official racism as the basis of the nation. The government was run by whites, the military was run by whites, the wealth belonged to whites and every important position in the private or public sector was held by whites. Blacks were allowed to serve as servants, labourers or clergymen, but not much else.
Both countries underwent violent revolts by the black majority, Rhodesia’s peaking a decade or so before South Africa’s. In the end the majority prevailed, though the result has been starkly different.
Zimbabwe under the savage rule of Robert Mugabe has crumbled into one of the world’s most despotic, chaotic, hideous kleptocracies on the planet. The country exists for the benefit of one man – Mugabe – and those cronies ruthless enough to join in the mass corruption that masquerades as a government.
When majority rule came to Zimbabwe it was a prosperous place, with a relatively small population and an abundance of agricultural and mineral resources. Now its economy is almost totally dysfunctional, state-sponsored violence is endemic, the majority of the population struggles along on subsistence levels while the country’s “leadership” spends its time looting resources 1and plotting who will succeed Mugabe, who will be 90 in February and has run the country since 1980, happily murdering opponents along the way.
South Africa is not a perfect place, but its history since Mandela was released from prison and elected to the presidency has contrasted with Zimbabwe’s in almost every way. Mugabe set out to punish whites for their years of oppression; Mandela conspicuously offered reconciliation. Mugabe seized power for himself and used defence forces as a private army to crush opponents; South Africa continues to be ruled by Mandela’s African National Congress, but holds regular free elections in which a series of successors have been fairly chosen and peacefully installed.
Most whites have fled Zimbabwe. Many blacks are desperate to follow them, and have swarmed across the border to South Africa and Botswana to escape Zimbabwe’s chaos. In Zimbabwe, open dissent is not tolerated; Mugabe’s leading opponent was beaten to a pulp some years ago when he tried to attend 2a prayer meeting. South Africa retains a vigorous press that doesn’t hesitate to state its views.
South Africa is not a perfect place, but its history since Mandela was released from prison has contrasted with Zimbabwe’s in almost every way.
There are plenty of problems in South Africa. Crime and violence are constant issues. Graft is worsening. The Mail & Guardian, a Johannesburg newspaper, reported last week 3that President Jacob Zuma had been ordered to repay $20 million for “security improvements” to his rural estate that included a swimming pool, an amphitheater, cattle enclosures and houses for relatives. The corruption is troubling, but in Zimbabwe there would have been no “graft ombudsman” to write the report, nor newspaper allowed to reveal it.
Although blacks have taken over many of the levers of power, the gap between rich and poor remains vast, with well-off blacks having joined a remaining block of wealthy whites to enjoy a disproportionate share of the national wealth. A telling moment occurred last year when 34 striking miners were shot to death4 by police, an event that eerily recalled similar incidents by whites against blacks under apartheid, but this time was by powerful blacks against poor blacks. The result has produced a violent struggle for control of the mining union and open challenges to the ANC, which is seen by many as having fallen prey to the temptations of office.
It’s a dangerous situation and one the current government seems ill-suited to deal with. Mr. Zuma is a bit of a cartoon character, with four wives and 20 children, who serves the interests of the ruling elite by eagerly joining the hunt for riches. But, again, the situation contrasts with South Africa’s unhappy neighbour in that South Africa still has the institutions intact to identify and publicize the situation, and enough faith in the security of its rights to use them.
That is all part of Mandela’s legacy. Unlike Zimbabwe or any number of other African disaster cases – Nigeria being another – it always has his example to hold up against the grubbing activities of his successors, and the belief in the right to fight against them. His death won’t eliminate that, which is another demonstration of his astonishing achievements.
politics, south africa, Mandela, Mandela death