Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) Statement to Mark the Centenary and Nelson Mandela’s Day
18 July 2018
Outraged and grieved by the Apartheid discriminatory regime, informed and inspired by the need to prevent their reoccurrence, recurrence, and committed to granting recognition to a fundamental and undeniable truth that all human beings possess inalienable human rights of dignity, Tata Nelson Mandela tirelessly worked to heal the divisions of the past, to promote national reconciliation and to lay the foundations of the South African Nation, which many refer today as the ‘Rainbow Nation of God’.
Now, we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, after five years of his death and 24 years of the foundation of the non-racial constitutional democracy to which he dedicated his life, we should mostly reflect on his legacy, which is under threat. This year also is of an important nature at the global level where the United Nations celebrates 70th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, on 10 December 1948. At the continental level, the year 2018 is dedicated to the fight against corruption, which has ruined our country, and the continent and has rendered our people poor of the poorest.
The 100th Anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth provides all South Africans with an opportunity to renew their commitment to Madiba’s vision of universal principles of inherent human dignity, freedom and justice he underscored during 1963 and 1964 Rivonia Trial, in which ten leaders of the African National Congress were tried for 221 acts of sabotage designed to overthrow the apartheid system. We should remain convicted by his Rivonia trial statement that “never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another”.
This year 2018 also coincide with the beginning of a new era in South Africa, where renewed leadership in government can regain the people’s confidence, especially with civil society organisations that are treated with hostility. Commitment is needed not only by word but by reinvigorated actions to implement and rule based on democratic principles such as equality, justice and freedom as entrenched by Tata Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu who inspired the global community to stand against injustice by sacrificing their lives to build the foundation of this country and reassured the people as beacons of hope.
South Africans will find meaning and purpose in celebration of Madiba’s Day if serious measures are placed to end mysterious killings, murders motivated by political intolerance, corrupted politicians that continue to be in key offices, despite being exposed to be involved in serious corruption cases, such as state capture, persecution of journalists for availing truth to the public and human rights defenders for promoting human rights. Today, the country finds itself in a cross road with different true stories on who we are and who we want to be or should be. This is because of acts of self-interest, corruption, political murders, poor service delivery, gender based violence, poverty, unemployment, mismanagement that detracted the country from a human rights path charted by Madiba.
South Africans will also find meaning and purpose in celebration of Madiba’ s Day if strong democratic institutions function independently, without fear, favour, prejudice and suspects of gross human rights violation are held accountable. This will ensure sustainability of respect of the rule of law and good governance, and respect for fundamental freedoms such as freedom of association and assembly as well as that of speech and opinion.
As President Obama said in his public lecture yesterday “Should we South African view the hope we had after Apartheid as naïve?” Madiba was rightly acknowledged by the whole world as one of the greatest leaders of the latter part of the 20th century, with enormous charm, charisma, humility and self-assurance of a born democrat. Mama Graca Machel also reminded us all to be positive as of Obama’s “Yes We Can” vision.
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