Joint Sitting - 27 June 2008

Friday, 27 june 2008 __

                    Proceedings AT joint sitting

Members of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces assembled in the Chamber of the National Assembly at 09:33.

The Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.

                      Calling of joint sitting

The Chairperson of the NCOP announced that the presiding officers had called a Joint Sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces in terms of Joint Rule 7(2) for the purpose of conducting a debate in celebration of the 90th birthday of the formidable statesman and father of the nation, Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, former President of the Republic of South Africa.


Mr K P MOTLANTHE: Madam Speaker, Chairperson of the NCOP, hon members, Premiers and MECs here present, Ministers, leaders of the opposition, comrades and friends, allow me to join the millions of our people and the peoples of the world who proclaim their respect and admiration for our leader and former President of South Africa, Comrade Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, as this Joint Sitting dedicates today’s work to his birthday.

His birthday will only be on 18 July and that is a special day in his life. We wish him many happy returns of it as well as bountiful good health. But to us, every day of his life is very precious. Therefore we celebrate today, we will celebrate tomorrow, we will celebrate on 18 July, we will celebrate on 2 August and, of course, generations to come will celebrate his centenary and for ever thereafter. [Applause.]

Throughout his life, Comrade Mandela has been in harness of the struggle for liberation from colonialism and national oppression. From his predecessors he learned about discipline, dedication, humility and sacrifice. He learned never to demand of others what he himself would not be prepared to do.

As a student he involved himself in the struggles of students and that resulted in his expulsion from Fort Hare University. He played an active part in the formation of the ANC Youth League in 1944. He was instrumental in crafting and canvassing support for the adoption of the Programme of Action at the 35th National Conference of the ANC in 1949.

He became the volunteer-in-chief during the 1952 defiance of unjust laws campaign. He was among those charged for sedition. He was banned and debarred from participating in meetings and conferences of the ANC. He was one of 157 treason trialists in 1956. I am saying 157 because The Guardian was also an accused in that trial. When the time for armed struggle came, he led from the front and was among the very first of our militants to receive military training in Algeria. He became the commander-in-chief of uMkhonto weSizwe. He was the first accused in the Rivonia Trial and was sentenced to life imprisonment, which he served on Robben Island and in Pollsmoor Prison.

For all of the 27 years that he spent behind bars, his family was subjected to unrelenting persecution and harassment at the hands of the State Security Branch. When many today find fault with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, it is only because they have lost sight of what she was subjected to. [Applause.] Because, literally, the security branches were all over her place all the time, and of course, human beings can only endure so much torture. There comes a point when they break.

The movement waged the struggle under four pillars. First was international mobilisation and the isolation of the apartheid regime, second was the legal mass work, third was underground organisation, and fourth was the armed struggle.

It was after the regime banned the ANC that 48 years of peaceful forms of struggle came to an end. As Comrade Nelson Mandela put it, the leadership took the view that there comes a time in the life of every nation when the choice is to surrender or to continue the struggle and the choice they made was to continue the struggle. Comrade Mandela participated in all four those pillars, and that is why he is so special in our hearts.

This is because he was the first to be sent by the movement to prepare the ground for those who would end up in exile. He taught most of the African states that were on the eve of attaining their independence from colonisation. He addressed the first meeting of the Pan African Freedom Movement of East, Central and Southern Africa, Pafmecsa, which preceded the formation of the Organisation of African Unity.

His comrade, friend, brother and partner at law, Oliver Tambo, led the campaign for the isolation of the apartheid regime. Not once did Oliver Tambo accept an award in his own right and his own name. It is because he understood the power and the symbolism of those who were behind bars. Everywhere he went all the awards were received in the name of Nelson Mandela.

It is those efforts that made him an international icon, a world-renowned struggle leader and revolutionary. Comrade Nelson Mandela waded through his years in prison with fortitude and remained an inspiration to those of us who were young, remained an inspiration to our combatants in the camps and remained an inspiration to our people, even in the remotest of villages.

It was from that same prison confinement that he initiated discussions with the regime. The first meeting was with Kobie Coetsee, who was Minister of Justice, to communicate to him the very important message that when all is said and done, the struggle of our people was surely going to triumph. That was the beginning of the talks about talks. So, Comrade Mandela, having played a leading role in the formation of uMkhonto weSizwe, in the recruitment of combatants, took up arms not because he was a violent person but because it was necessary to defeat the monster of apartheid.

As the world-renowned German poet Bertolt Brecht puts it in his poem To Posterity — and I want to quote loosely from only two stanzas of that poem: “To those who shall emerge from this flood into which we are sinking, remember that those who took up arms did so in order to lay down the foundation of kindness.” But they themselves could not be kind because they had to confront a brutal regime. Therefore, to future generations, to posterity, to those of us who have benefited from the efforts of the generation of Nelson Mandela, we have to choose very carefully our historical obligation, because we cannot take up arms when we have a democratic constitution and country. [Applause.]

Comrade Mandela led in efforts to attain the strategic objective of uniting our people and he bent over backwards at certain times – even at the risk of being criticised by some among our own ranks. He bent over backwards to reach out to the former ruling bloc that oppressed us, discriminated against us, and he gave meaning to the preamble of the Freedom Charter when it says South Africa belongs to all who live in it – black and white – and that no government can claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people. [Applause.] He gave meaning to that very, very important aspiration of our people, articulated at the Congress of the People in 1955.

As I said, every generation has to select for itself its own historical obligations. Our obligation is to build a united democratic, nonsexist, nonracist and prosperous South Africa. [Applause.] If all of us put our efforts towards the attainment of this objective, our children will inherit a prosperous, democratic, nonsexist country.

Currently we are facing grinding poverty and unemployment. The continent and other parts of the world face war and violent crime, malnutrition and disease, HIV and Aids, climate change and natural disasters, land hunger and homelessness, ignorance and lack of skills, inequality and discrimination, sexism and ethnic chauvinism, spiralling inflation and debt, all of which converge and conspire to produce an environment very similar to what Bertolt Brecht described in his poem when he said, “To those of you who shall emerge from this flood into which we are sinking”, because it leaves many people with a sense that we are sinking into a flood of all of these negative happenings. It is the burden of leadership to wade through all of these challenges and remain positive in a way that inspires our people. [Applause.]

Comrade Nelson Mandela has had a very rich life. Even when he said he was retiring from government and the leadership of the movement, all he meant was that he was slowing down, because he did not retire. He continued to mobilise resources to build schools in remote villages where there were no schools; where children still learned under trees. I cannot forget how he once took me with him to Zeerust, where the community had only one high school and they were therefore compelled to resort to a platoon system of learning: two schools, in essence, with two sets of teachers and two principals, who had to share one building.

Would you allow me just to finish this account? Nelson Mandela showed his passion. I remember when the little aircraft that we were flying in landed on the landing strip outside Zeerust, because he was President of the Republic, the military was there to protect him. They had taken up position behind the shrubs and the trees. As he emerged from this aircraft, in his typical style he walked straight to one whom he saw under a tree, shot out his hand and said: “How are you? How are you?” As he was shaking that hand, he saw another one, went to him and said: “How are you? How are you?” To the chagrin of the commanders of that platoon, he left them in complete disarray, but out of the power of love and compassion. Thank you. [Applause.] [Time expired.]

Mr A J LEON: Mr Chairperson, Madam Speaker, Premiers, hon colleagues, it is a great pleasure to follow the hon Motlanthe on this historic and very happy occasion.

There are some, no doubt, who feel deprived that Parliament has to share this tribute to Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his 90th birthday with the citizens of Great Britain, where President Mandela is present for the great birthday celebration marking this historic milestone. But perhaps that is an appropriate metaphor because South Africa shares Mandela with the world, his party shares him with the opposition, and he uniquely rises above party and personality as perhaps the most powerful and potent and positive symbol of all that is good about our country and the message of hope he and we offer to the world at large.

George Orwell, writing about the Mahatma Gandhi — with whom we can usefully bracket Mandela as one of the select few who transcend the politics of their age and rank among the truly good and the great of this world — said that the problem with conferring a sainthood on Gandhi is that you need to rescue saints from under a pile of tissues and saccharine. Therefore in paying proper and appropriate tribute to Nelson Mandela we shouldn’t mind if we recognise him for what he is, a demonstrable human being, albeit a remarkable one, possessed of both great strengths and the human frailties to which we are subject.

Perhaps one of the greatest strengths, in my view, of Nelson Mandela, which is less recognised than any of his other towering attributes, is his extraordinary sense of humour. I remember being exposed to it at a very critical moment in my own life. It was December 1998 and I was about to undergo a quadruple bypass operation at the Millpark Hospital in Johannesburg. A few weeks earlier there had been a spat — what’s new — between the ANC and the opposition. Mr Mandela had referred to us as “Mickey Mouse parties”, to which I had responded that in that case he must be the head of a Goofy government. On the eve of the operation I was awaiting my fate with some anxiety when there was a knock on the hospital door and the world-famous voice announced: “Is that Mickey Mouse in there? It’s Goofy here. Can I come in and see you?” [Laughter.] I have absolutely no doubt that that visit hastened for me a very speedy recovery. In so many areas Nelson Mandela provides exceptions to the rule and breaks the mould into which our politics have so often and so predictably been cast.

In 1992, in the previous dispensation, or the previous regime as we now call it, I was the MP for the Houghton constituency. Arguably the most famous ex-political prisoner in the entire world and certainly the most newsworthy South African political leader had moved into the constituency. It was the time of my annual parliamentary report-back meeting. One of my party activists suggested that I send Mandela a note, inviting him to attend the function. This I did, not expecting that he would attend, and also attached to the invitation a chocolate cake, welcoming him to the area. I hardly expected either his attendance or even an acknowledgement.

The night after the meeting I returned home quite late and was amazed to find a message on my answering machine. It was Mr Mandela. I first assumed it was a friend doing an impressive imitation of what by then was the most famous voice in the world, but it was the real thing — well, at least a recording of him — expressing regret for nonattendance and grateful thanks for the cake. He suggested that we all have dinner at his home and, within a day or two, Zach de Beer, Ken Andrew and I were invited around to Madiba’s residence for a meal — just the four of us!

It was my first meeting with Mr Mandela and set the tone and atmosphere for many to follow: personal warmth, a fascination with people and events and an engaging enjoyment of debate and discussion. I suppose the most remarked upon feature of Mandela’s persona and his performance as both a political leader and as our President is how the deep psychic wounds which one imagined his imprisoned past would bring to bear on the political present seemed almost entirely absent in his demeanour, in his actions and in his policies. This is not to say that Mandela was not capable of deep anger, which he often — quite rightly, in my view — displayed in response to the so-called Third Force violence, which formed a bloody and constant background to the turbulent negotiation process that was led by him.

I also felt the wrath of his tongue when we had heated exchanges about the Shell House shootings or massacres, for we had our doubts about those events. Now Mandela never did persuade me about what happened on that day and my persistence on that topic absolutely infuriated him. But this simply highlighted the essence of what you might call “the Nelson Mandela paradox”: at one level he was or could be the most intensely partisan of politicians and at another level he was a global celebrity cum secular saint. And if the normal roles of politics didn’t apply to him, he also wore his power, his immense authority, very lightly.

The day after Parliament first met in May 1994, following his historic inauguration, I was again amazed that Mr Mandela had the time and interest to call me up late one night at my Cape Town flat for a long chat and suggested a follow-up meeting. At the meeting, the consequence of which was to arrange for my predecessor Zach de Beer to become an ambassador, he was very frank and honest. He said to me that the job of an opposition was to hold up a mirror to the government. He announced at that early and critical stage in the formation of our democracy that both debate and dissent were very worthy ideals and I believe Nelson Mandela lived up to those ideals and practised the ideals he preached.

I remember that in 1997 he invited us to join his Government of National Unity but the terms and conditions were a bit too onerous to accept. Yet, typically, our concerned rejection of that very generous invitation did nothing to undermine our relationship, politically and personally. When the time came in 1999 for Parliament to bid farewell to Mandela, I could inform the House with utter sincerity that paying tribute to the President objectively as a political opponent was the easiest speech I ever had to deliver. On that occasion I spoke words that were heartfelt and sincere, which the intervening passage of nine years seems only to have bolstered as Mandela’s visibility lessens but his stature increases. You have graced this Parliament, you have graced this country, you have graced humanity. [Applause.]

Prince M G BUTHELEZI: Hon Chairperson of the NCOP, hon Premiers, hon members, it is my honour to pay this tribute to Mr Nelson Mandela at this special sitting to celebrate his 90th birthday. 

I first met Madiba over half a century ago, when he was a young lawyer with Mandela and Tambo at Chancellor House in downtown Johannesburg. This was the early 1950s, when we were both young men. In fact, we were such good friends that he wound up the estate of my father-in-law, Mr Zachariah Mzila. As a lawyer, I requested this from him as he was also a friend of my family and of my father-in-law. My first impression of him was of a thrusting man; a young man in a hurry. That never changed with the role history cast him in, nor has the dignified bearing he has maintained his entire life.

It is difficult to say if I thought at that time that he seemed destined to lead the country. There was a crop of impressive young leaders in the ANC at the time, but it was clear to all of us that this man was destined for a leadership role.

Our friendship has always been characterised by warmth, affection and, I believe, mutual respect. I will carry for what remains of my own life fond memories of him entertaining me in his house in Orlando, when he was married to Evelyn, and later when he was married to Winnie and more recently in Maputo, when he was married to Graça. [Laughter.] [Applause.] This was maintained while I served as Madiba’s Minister of Home Affairs in his single-term administration. Our former President also has — to use a phrase I would normally associate with my grandchildren — a “wicked” sense of humour! We have all been depressed by the goings-on in Zimbabwe. I remember with amusement the occasion when I was with Madiba at a SADC conference in Mauritius. He was then Chairperson of SADC and he had to consult other SADC leaders about the crisis in Lesotho of a brewing coup. For some reason, I think because relations between him and President Mugabe were frosty, Madiba had not yet spoken to the Zimbabwean president. Now, I was just about to be appointed Acting President because the then Deputy President, Thabo Mbeki, I recall, was going to Malaysia. Madiba looked at his watch and fixed me with that look: “Shenge, it has just gone 12 o’clock, so you are Acting President. You speak to Mugabe!” [Laughter.]

On a more sober note, hon members will know that at times Madiba and I differed on the means but never once on the destination of this great country. I am proud of our partnership in promoting peace and reconciliation in South Africa.

One of the things that I will regret for the rest of what remains of my life is this: When the amakhosi in the Eastern Cape asked him why he hadn’t seen me after his release, he said that some of the leaders almost throttled him and forbade him to see me because he had written to me in

  1. He had been concerned about the low—intensity civil war that was taking place in KwaZulu-Natal in particular and had said that as soon as he was out of jail, we were going to meet, but that was never to be. I always say the history of this country might have been different and perhaps some lives might have been saved if we had met.

As a father figure to our nation, he has been simply marvellous; pure gold. He is still playing that role today and I hope that he and Graça Machel are having some well-deserved time together in London this week.

Within the struggle, consensus was the rarest commodity. Fortunately for the main players, many of whom are here today — one of them has just addressed us, the deputy president of the ANC — consensus covered the most important issue: that apartheid had to go. We only ever differed on how to kill the wicked beast of apartheid.

In this regard, Madiba made the ultimate sacrifice. He spent 27 years in prison, in defiance of apartheid. Of my most precious possessions are the letters that he wrote to me, which I still have, when he was in jail. Just as no one can give all those seemingly lost years back to him or, as is often forgotten, his family, no one can ignore or forget the inherent significance of such a sacrifice.

Madiba captured the imagination of the Western media establishment and beyond. The worldwide appreciation for Madiba’s sacrifice earned him his iconic status which he, in turn, has used to further the liberation claims of his people. Most profoundly, Madiba taught us that ultimate liberation can only be accomplished by liberating the oppressed as well as the oppressor. Is there not a hint there, among the sometimes shrill and contradictory calls for action, of how Zimbabwe could find the right path again? I think there might be.

Hon members, particularly those who served in the first Parliament when Madiba was President, will remember that Madiba was a consummate politician, to his very fingertips. He possessed a prosecuting intellect and a steely determination to pursue his goals to the end. Today, Madiba, in the words of Byron, soars “above this little scene of things”. Madiba somehow transcended the limitations of race, gender and other economic markers. He saw us all as South Africans first.

This was especially true in the fight against HIV/Aids. A few hours after Madiba announced that his son had died of HIV/Aids in January 2005, I commiserated with him on the telephone, having lost two children myself the previous year to the same pandemic. There was not a hint of self-pity in his announcement, but only a heartfelt desire to help break the stigma and silence surrounding this disease.

This was classic Mandela: country before self. And that is how the country and the entire world know him. So, today we salute an icon on his 90th birthday and we raise our hands to Tata Madiba and simply say thank you for what you mean to us. Aah Dalibhunga! [Applause.]

Mnu G T MADIKIZA: Sihlalo, baPhathiswa ababekekileyo, malungu ale Ndlu ahloniphekileyo, zindwendwe esizihloniphayo zale Ndlu yoWiso-mthetho, kuyinyhweba engathethekiyo kum ukufumana eli qonga ukuze ndikhe ndizame ukutyibela eli nyange loMzantsi Afrika, gxebe le Afrika.

Ndithetha ngenyange lehlabathi liphela ngobubanzi balo. Lo ke ngusingaye namhlanje, uBawo uRolihlahla Nelson Mandela, ufafa lwakwaMadiba, kwaZondwa, kooNgqolomsila. Ndithetha apha ngomnumzana, isithwalandwe esahluke kwaphela kum nakuwe, nangona sinegazi nenyama. Ndithetha ngenkokeli egqibeleleyo, cwaka.

UBawo uMadiba ngumntu othobekileyo, yaye yena akasiboni nesizathu sokuba uluntu jikelele lumphakamise kangaka. Akaboni nto ayenzileyo eyodlula leyo yenziwa ngamanye amagorha omzabalazo, koko yena uzibona njengodlale nje indima ebimfanele kumzabalazo. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraphs follows.)

[Mr G T MADIKIZA: Chairperson, hon Ministers, members of this august House, distinguished guests, it is a great honour for me to have this opportunity to sing the praises of a legend of South Africa; I beg your pardon, of Africa. I am talking here about an icon of the world as a whole. He is none other than the birthday boy, Mr Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela, a tall man of the Madiba clan, of the Zondwa, of the Ngqolomsila. I am talking here about a gentleman, a man of extraordinary qualities that set him apart from you and me, although he is flesh and blood like you and me. I am referring here to a perfect leader.

Madiba is a humble person, and he does not understand why people should elevate him so much. He does not regard himself as having played a greater role than the other struggle heroes, but only an appropriate one.]

To all of us across the aisles here, across the country, across the continent and across the planet, Madiba is a hero and the focus of our deepest respect. It is his modesty that contributes to our esteem of him. It takes a truly remarkable person, one of stern character and integrity, to remain modest in the face of such adulation. In all of human history, there have been only a handful of people who are so universally admired.

As South Africans and Africans, we take great pride in this man who represents in his resilience, his patience, his compassion and his ability to listen, everything that we aspire to be.

Here is a man who, at a very early age, made momentous decisions, along with other courageous men and women, to oppose the oppression of Africans, even if it meant taking up arms. At Rivonia he made his famous statement about the ideals of freedom and equality for which he was prepared to lay down his life. And his words reverberated across the world. Indeed at that moment he skewered apartheid right through its morally bankrupt heart—truly, a renaissance man, activist, intellectual, warrior, orator and leader!

He disappeared into prison life, but throughout the world his name remained on the lips of democrats. He became a myth, a symbol, a mantra. Millions moved and acted with that symbol in mind. He emerged from prison after 27 years and astounded everybody by proving to be even bigger than the legend.

Throughout Codesa, and later as our first democratic President, he demonstrated exceptional leadership and wisdom. It would have been easy for a lesser man to ride upon the wave of his popularity and force people to overlook his failures and shortcomings, yet he was an extraordinary man for an extraordinary time in history. Unlike most, he has never hesitated to admit an error and he has never let power or popularity blind him to the needs of the people that he led.

Thus, in his leadership after being released, he acted in ways that expanded the legend, made tangible all the heroic qualities that had been bestowed upon him during his imprisonment. But he did not stop there. He did something truly remarkable in 1999: He handed over the reins of power, after one term in office. He would barely have needed to hint and he would have been given a second and even a third term, and he knew that. He retired, and we could say he is a living hero, but Madiba has never been content with not being a servant to his people. Despite ostensibly being a pensioner, he has been the driving force behind his Children’s Foundation, which has done amazing work.

And it doesn’t stop there either. In the face of political folly and semantics, while the Aids pandemic swept across the nation, he started the 46664 campaign. He turns 90 now, and his work rate puts to shame most people half his age.

It would be possible to sing his praises all afternoon and still not exhaust even a fraction of our regard for him. Perhaps I should try and summarise in four words: We love you, Madiba! [Applause.]

We hope that Madiba will have a happy birthday and that God will grant us many, many more years with this living icon. [Applause.]

The PREMIER OF THE NORTH WEST (Ms E Molewa): Hon Chairperson, at a time when we face the internal challenges of safeguarding our economic performance, managing our political environment, resolving our external relationships with fellow Africans and building bridges with some of them, it is appropriate that we converge here in the name of someone whose words and life symbolise the struggle for the nobility of our political soul as a nation. You cannot separate a man, or a woman, from his or her own words. Madiba’s words speak for themselves. And as his life attests, we can rest assured that he meant every single word he ever uttered. Indeed, he himself said, and I quote:

It is never my custom to use words lightly.

We are blessed as a free and democratic nation to have been led by a person we do not have to second-guess every time he speaks. Is there a better lesson and legacy that Madiba can bequeath us as leaders and people? If there is, indeed it must be the great message that we should live what we profess and that words alone are wholly inadequate. “The challenge,” he said, “is to move from rhetoric to action.” And we have seen that in his life.

We are honouring an icon here today; an icon lauded by spiritual leaders, fêted by kings and queens, revered by presidents and blessed by the love of the common people. On this, the occasion of the celebration in this Joint Sitting of his 90th birthday, our gift to our Tata Madiba should be to rededicate ourselves to the example he has set for us and reaffirm our commitment to the path he has charted for our nation.

Let us continue to walk to freedom — to go on the long walk to freedom — with focus this time on economic development and poverty eradication, inspired by his message that the sight of freedom on the horizon should encourage us. When we meet the inevitable barriers, let us be fortified by his caution that there is no easy walk to freedom.

In honour of this man, our Tata Nelson Rolihlahla, Madiba, who has given us so much in return for so little, and who suffered for so many with a promise of nothing for himself, let us reassert our confidence in the implementation of our Constitution to the fullest. Our Constitution is renowned worldwide and, in his words, is people-centred and guarantees the freedom, liberty and/or rights for all.

Let us live his loyalty to Africa and pronounce for all to hear our oneness with our brothers and sisters from elsewhere on our continent, taking note of his dream and desire to see Africa’s children playing in the sun. It is his conviction that the African renaissance is an ideal whose time has come and he has made a call for the 21st century to be the African century.

We meet here today as two Houses symbolising his legacy of devolving power, authority, responsibility and indeed accountability from the centre to the margin, and from the middle to the masses. Our masses must be able to do things for themselves.

We meet here, from our unique and seemingly divergent focus areas, to demonstrate that there is a point of convergence in our multi-institutional democracy. In our democracy we maintain a tradition that symbolises and is itself personified by Madiba, Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

What I am saying, even though I might not have eloquent words to say this, is that on this day of our celebrating the 90th birthday of Tata, our father, it behoves us to tell him and the world that his legacy, both of word and deed, remains the cornerstone of our democracy and that just as he famously declared his willingness to die for his principles, so are we willing to die for those selfless principles enshrined in our Constitution.

Our gift to Tata Madiba should be to commit to what he promised this nation right at the beginning of his presidency, namely:

Never again; never again shall anyone’s freedom be violated in this country.

We dare say that never again shall we allow the need to arise for anyone to cry out, as Madiba’s beloved daughter Sis Zindzi did in 1980, in a poem titled Echo of Mandela, when she said, and I quote:

  In silence
  the distant heroes bow their heads
  the chains weigh them down
  they know no laughter
  retreating... retreating
  into a mist of bloodiness
  the decaying skull
  of buried freedom
  emits a dull echo
  of cries
  free me
  free me

Indeed, as we round up yet another blessed decade of a life lived for humanity, let us begin its centennial decade with a vision contradistinctive to the one painfully captured by our Zindzi, who was speaking on behalf of the people deprived of their heroes. Let the next decade of Madiba’s life be the rebirth of hope for humanity, which he taught all of us.

As we recreate this world of unbridled hope, we do so with a determination far bigger than our size as a nation. As we strive to rediscover our humanity and humanism, we do so with a fiery optimism almost alien to a continent brutally taught to reduce itself to pity.

We derive our confidence from a man who spent almost three decades of his life with a back that could be bowed but never broken; a man who strode into freedom walking tall, and taught his nation to walk as tall.

Madiba taught us to believe that we were second to none and equal to all, and that we could achieve all that our history had taught us was unattainable. He made us believe in ourselves and in justice, and to understand the power of our sociopolitical and economic situation.

He made us appreciate the capacity to change for good, the world and forces in the lives of our people. As Marianne Williamson, writing to him, said, in a context involving children but equally applicable to us here today:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

That is Tata Madiba. He is known to both friend and foe, and both admirer and secret hater — you can’t afford to hate Madiba openly; you would be very abnormal!

He speaks the language not of the self, but of others; not of receiving, but of giving; and not of the dark, but of the light. It is a language of nobility; a language that ennobles. It is a language of dignity; a language that dignifies. It is a language of inspiration; a language that inspires. It is a language to learn. It is a language of nation-building; a call to our humanity and the sanctity of our souls. It is a call that none could deny in 1994 and that none should ignore even in 2008.

For many around the world, there is no icon who walks among the common people. For us here, there is a legend who lives among us. For many around the world, there is no revolutionary who speaks the language of reconciliation. For us here, there is a radical who symbolises peaceful transformation.

If we do not see that as a blessing to our nation, then we shall never know what a blessing is. If this is not the proverbial touch of celestial beings, then we shall never know the honour that higher forces bestow upon nations. [Time expired.]

Die LEIER VAN DIE OPPOSISIE: Voorsitter, die moeilikheid om oor oudpresident Mandela te praat, is om hom nie tot standbeeld te verklaar nie, om te bly onthou dat hy ’n mens is, want om hom foutloos te vind, is om hom sy grootste bate te ontneem: sy menslikheid, juis wat dit moontlik maak vir iedere Suid-Afrikaner om te glo dat hulle ’n persoonlike band met hom kan smee, ’n spesiale verhouding met hom kan aanknoop, ’n besondere plekkie in sy lewe sou kon vul, by sy verjaardagviering aan sy sy sou kon sit.

Sewe-en-twintig jaar lank mag ons nie sy beeld gesien het nie, het hy net in ons verbeelding geleef, en tog het hy volksbesit geword. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)

[The LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Chairperson, when talking about former President Mandela, one should not elevate him to the status of a saint, but keep in mind that he is human, because to claim he has no imperfections is to rob him of his biggest asset: his humanity, exactly what makes it possible for each South African to believe that they can forge a personal bond with him, that they have a special relationship with him, that they can fill a special place in his life, and that they can sit next to him at his birthday celebrations.

For 27 years we were not allowed to see his image, and he lived in our imagination only, yet he became national property.]

It is a son of the people, a father of the nation, not only the most famous prisoner in the world, but a man who became almost more famous in his retirement than before — a unique achievement in the annals of great men.

Ek was nie in die Parlement toe president Mandela hier was nie, en ek sal seker ook nooit daardie voorreg hê nie. Ek moet rondborstig erken dat ek jaloers is op almal van julle wat wel daardie voorreg gehad het. Tog is hy ’n integrale deel van my lewe. Sy lewe het betekenis aan myne gegee. Saam met sy vrylating is ons bevry. My familie was in Pelgrimsrus saam met Duitse vriende en het saam met almal in die hotel op televisie na sy vrylating gekyk. Ons opwinding was oorweldigend en het gelei tot vele rondtes sjampanje vir almal wat saam met ons gejuig het. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)

[I was not in Parliament when President Mandela was here, and I will probably never have that privilege. I must admit that frankly I am jealous of those who had the privilege to be here. Yet he is an integral part of my life. His life gave meaning to mine. When he was released we were liberated too. My family were in Pelgrimsrus with German friends and watched his release on television with the others in the hotel. Our excitement was overwhelming and led to many rounds of champagne for everyone who cheered with us.]

”I place the remaining years of my life in your hands,” he said. And he has lived up to that promise. But it is as though he held us by the hand to lead us to the Promised Land. Sy woorde het vlerke gekry. Ná die eerste demokratiese verkiesing het hy die volgende gesê:

Ek reik ’n hand van vriendskap uit na al die leiers van al die partye en hul lede en vra hulle almal om aan te sluit en saam te werk om die probleme wat ons as ’n nasie in die gesig staar, aan te pak. ’n ANC- regering sal al die mense van Suid-Afrika dien, nie net ANC-lede nie.

Hierdie was die verbond wat hy met Suid-Afrika se kiesers gesluit het. Dit is waartoe alle opposisiepartye hulle verbind het. Dit is die hoeksteen waarop hierdie Parlement gevestig is. Dis waarom ek vandag hier kan staan en hom namens die DA van harte geluk kan wens met sy verjaarsdag, waarom ons nie buite staan en na binne loer nie; omdat hy ons deel gemaak het van hierdie nasie. Dis hoekom ons voel dat hy ook aan ons behoort. Hy het ons die betekenis van vergifnis, gelykheid en waardigheid geleer. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)

[His words took wing. After the first democratic election he said the following:

I hold out a hand of friendship to all the leaders of all parties and their members, and ask all of them to join us in working together to tackle the problems we face as a nation. An ANC government will serve all the people of South Africa, not just ANC members.

This was the pact that he made with the voters of South Africa. This is what all opposition parties agreed to. This is the foundation on which this Parliament is founded. That is why, on behalf of the DA, I can stand here today and whole heartedly congratulate him on his birthday; why we are not standing on the outside and peering in, because he made us part of the nation. This is why we feel that he also belongs to us. He taught us the importance of forgiveness, equality and dignity.]

Someone — I don’t know who he was — wrote that the fact that Mandela was a black man who commanded this universal respect and adulation was doubly significant. As an ending to centuries of racial discrimination and in a country of such diversity as ours, we instinctively recognise that we can truly agree that he has the transcendent capacity to speak not only on behalf of the interests of the rising nations of the South but to represent a kind of consciousness which includes all of humanity, makes the world feel whole and wholesome, and has come to be known as “Madiba magic”.

I read that his greatest pleasure in his most private moments is watching the sunset, with the music of Händel or Tchaikovsky playing. Then why, oh why, is the famous 46664 concert not filled with classical music? Imagine if your heart longed for the enchantment of the classics and you had to spend the whole night in Hyde Park, listening to music composed for your grandchildren! Having to listen to Amy Winehouse, Kurt Darren, Josh Groban, Joan Baez, Johnny Clegg, Queen, Annie Lennox and a whole range of other minor luminaries — what a sacrifice he’s making! [Interjections.]

My birthday prayer for him, God willing, is that someone will play him Paul Robeson and the old masters on his special day. Thank you. [Applause.]

Mrs C DUDLEY: Chairperson, Madam Speaker, Madam Deputy Speaker, Mr Mandela, in your absence, on behalf of the ACDP it is my pleasure to wish you a happy birthday. We pray that God’s hand will continue to be upon you and that the coming year will be especially blessed. We would like to express our appreciation for you and to honour you as we mark your birth.

Who would have guessed the phenomenal importance of the birth of this tiny little boy on 18 July 1918 in Umtata, Transkei — not only the impact it was to have on South Africa but on the nations of the world? Only God knew exactly what He had in mind. Of course, God’s ways are not our ways and the most important missions often require the one sent to experience enormous trials and tribulations.

Leading the way of reconciliation and reconstruction in a society that had been separated by over a century of racial segregation and apartheid took great vision, great courage and great faith. I’m sure you are as amazed as anyone at what God can accomplish, often as much in spite of us as He does through us.

Of all your many attributes, it has been your humility and your empathy which have moved even the hardest of hearts. We thank you for caring for children, the youth, the disabled, for the people of Burundi, Zimbabwe and other countries where their struggle has necessitated great suffering.

Today, it is difficult to think of much else as across our border the brutal Mugabe regime makes a mockery of the democracy so many have sacrificed so much for. I will, however, choose to think of the inspiring, pertinent words spoken by the Deputy President yesterday in the Youth Parliament, namely that South Africa, like the rest of Africa, had the great advantage of being a continent and nation of young people.

When we follow the financial news, we hear, “Stocks were up or down today, in response to the news that …” and the “news” referred to is usually either a government’s economic report, or the market’s reaction to an interest rate cut. This makes sense because buying stocks is essentially betting on the future of the economy, and the best guide to that future, one might think, is the action of policy-makers and financial markets.

There is, however, another and arguably more reliable predictor of economic health and that is demographics, specifically the age of a population or the ratio of older people to younger people. This point is explored in the documentary Demographic Winter, where a financial consultant considers two charts, the first being the performance of the world’s largest provider of independent credit ratings and the second the number of births during the “baby boom”.

When he compared them, allowing for a 45-to-50-year lag representing people’s peak spending years, he found that the Standard and Poor’s performance and the number of births tracked almost perfectly. In other words, future prosperity is determined to a significant degree by the number of children being born today. While this ought to be obvious, because consumer spending drives the economy, somehow the importance is missed. The more people you have in their peak spending years, the more spending you have on everything from housing to travelling and taxes paid. As the population ages, it spends less.

Most people have been programmed to think that overpopulation is one of the worst dangers facing the globe. In fact, the opposite is true. As Longman notes in Demographic Winter, no society has both a shrinking population and a growing economy. The two are incompatible. Sadly, our society prioritises self-satisfaction and material prosperity at the expense of future generations. The irony is that our material prosperity depends on those future generations. Mr Mandela, there is a battle raging in South Africa and, indeed, throughout the world, which you have not yet spoken out on, and that is the war against pre-born babies. Abortion on demand not only discriminates against those babies, but takes their lives and deprives Africa of who knows what potential. [Interjections.] In this matter, Sir, I appeal to you. Thank you. [Applause.]

Dr C P MULDER: Chairperson, Madam Speaker, Mr Motlanthe, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, it is given to only a few men to live out their dreams in their lifetime. Mr Nelson Mandela succeeded in doing this. Against severe odds, he realised the vision he had as a young man.

I would like to share with the House this morning two experiences with regard to Mr Mandela of which I had first-hand knowledge. In 1989 I was a young Member of Parliament in the opposition. At that stage, the then NP, under the leadership of Mr P W Botha, was adamant that they would not talk to the ANC. Those who did, like the Dakar group, were ostracised. We in the opposition then got word that the NP, unlike what they told the electorate in the run-up to the 1989 general election, of course, was talking secretly to Mr Mandela in prison. We then planned to expose these actions of the NP and started putting questions on the Question Paper in this regard. Immediately, the then Minister of Justice, Mr Kobie Coetsee, made an urgent appointment with our then Chief Whip, Mr Frank le Roux. His message was: Please don’t persist with this. Mr Mandela is very ill. He is a dying man in prison. We, the NP government, cannot allow him to die in prison.

This message was communicated to our caucus and we, in the national interest, did not go ahead with our questions. [Laughter.] Mr Mandela was then 71 years old. He went on to become President in 1994 and today we are celebrating his 90th birthday. [Applause.] Ironically, Mr Kobie Coetsee, on the other hand, died eight years ago, in the year 2000. [Laughter.]

The second experience says a lot about Mr Mandela’s humanity as a person. I often tease the children of my brother and colleague, Dr Pieter Mulder, by mimicking different kinds of voices over the telephone when I call them. On a Sunday afternoon there was a telephone call for his daughter Suzanne. At the time, she was a final-year medical student at the University of the Free State. That day there was a report in the Afrikaans Sunday newspaper about her, as she had just received an award from the university as the dux student of the year. The voice on the other side of the telephone was that of Mr Mandela. She, however, was convinced that it was me who was having her on and pretending to be Mr Mandela. My brother had a lot of trouble convincing her that it really was the President congratulating her with her achievement. Mr Mandela then did congratulate her and she will remember this for the rest of her life. [Applause.]

One person in the right place, at the right time, and with the right approach can make a huge difference. Mr Mandela is such a person. He proved this statement to be true. He didn’t just have an influence on South Africa, but on the whole world. There is no substitute in life for hope. Mr Mandela radiates hope.

Afrikaners het ’n groot respek vir ouer mense. Senior burgers beklee ’n spesiale plek in die Afrikanergemeenskap. Daarom, weet ek, kan ek namens Afrikaners praat as ek vandag aan mnr Mandela sê: Baie hartlik geluk met u 90ste verjaarsdag. Dit is ’n besondere mylpaal om in ’n mens se lewe te bereik; iets wat nie baie mense beskore is nie.

Mnr Mandela se nalatenskap, wat sê dat wit-oor-swart-oorheersing net so verkeerd is soos swart-oor-wit-oorheersing, is iets wat deur toekomstige geslagte onthou en uitgebou moet word. Mnr Mandela se reënboognasie, as ’n politieke konsep waarin daar plek vir elkeen van ons is, stel vir ons almal ’n voorbeeld. Ek wil ten slotte die hoop en vertroue uitspreek dat mnr Mandela op sy knieë sal gaan en ons Hemelse Vader sal dank vir ’n merkwaardige en geseënde 90 jaar, want ná alles gesê is, weet ons aan God alleen kom al die eer toe.

Namens die VF Plus sê ons vir mnr Mandela baie geluk. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)

[Afrikaners have great respect for older people. Senior citizens have a special place in the Afrikaner community. That is why, I know, I can speak on behalf of Afrikaners when I say to Mr Mandela today: Many happy returns on your 90th birthday. It is an exceptional milestone to reach in one’s life; something that not many people are destined for.

Mr Mandela’s legacy, which states that white-over-black domination is just as wrong as black-over-white domination, is something that future generations must remember and build upon. Mr Mandela’s rainbow nation, as a political concept in which there is a place for all of us, sets an example to us all. Lastly, I would like to express the hope and trust that Mr Mandela will go on his knees and thank our Heavenly Father for an exceptional and blessed 90 years, because after everything is said and done, we know that it is to the glory of God alone.

On behalf of the FF Plus we would like to say many happy returns to Mr Mandela. [Applause.]]

Mrs J CHALMERS: Chairperson, hon members of this House, I would like to extend a special welcome today to the president of the ANC, Comrade Jacob Zuma. [Applause.] I would also like to extend a special welcome and acknowledgment to another hero of the struggle who is in the House today, Comrade Andrew Mlangeni. [Applause.]

Today is a very special day, a day when we celebrate as Parliament and in Parliament the approaching 90th birthday of our revered, beloved and heroic leader, Comrade Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. On Mandela’s birthday, 18 July, people all over the world, across many nations, will be celebrating his remarkable life. Indeed, I think, for all of us, the name Mandela evokes the image and spirit of an extraordinary human being and we all rejoice in the fact that he is now nearing his 90th birthday in good health and is still contributing in a marvellous way to making our planet earth into a richer and better place.

For me, being asked to speak in this debate is an unexpected and wonderful honour. I wish my husband, who used to sit up there listening to my debates, could be here to celebrate with us today. I am glad that my daughter is able to be present.

Much has been written about the life and times of Nelson Mandela and his role in the liberation of South Africa from the apartheid regime. His was, and still is, an extraordinary life and his own description of his childhood in the rural Transkei is wonderfully evocative of that time. I wish that his book A Long Walk to Freedom would be prescribed reading in all secondary schools in this country. Archbishop Desmond Tutu says of it:

This is a splendid book … Justice, freedom, goodness and love have prevailed spectacularly in South Africa and one man has embodied that struggle and its vindication. This is his story and the story of that struggle. It is a fitting monument. It will help us never to forget, lest we in our turn repeat the ghastliness of apartheid.

I think those four words — justice, freedom, goodness and love — embody the spirit and psyche of Nelson Mandela. Those four words, bolstered by courage and commitment, resulted in an absolute belief in the precept set out in the Freedom Charter of a nonracial future for South Africa. All those qualities melded into a man who combined extraordinary qualities of leadership with a wonderful leavening humanity and, time and again, a quickness of wit and humour that left his enemies literally dumbstruck.

I would like to focus here on just one of the words I have mentioned above, and that is the word “humanity”. It is a word to which Mr Mandela himself gave quite a lot of care and attention; a word that will recur frequently in his speeches — those wonderful speeches of his where he manages to capture in the most remarkable way his hopes and aspirations for his beloved country, because his hopes were our hopes. He captured our dreams and aspirations as well.

Two quotations stand out for me and they seem particularly relevant at this time in our history. The first:

What challenges us is to ensure that none should enjoy lesser rights and none be tormented because they are born different, hold contrary political views or praise God in a different manner.

In the second quotation he was referring to his Robben Island years:

We fought injustice in order to preserve our own humanity.

The lives of those of us born into the white community in South Africa in the decade when racism was totally legislated and entrenched in our country continued for the most part untouched by the struggle, courage and commitment of those who were trying by all means to cast off the shackles of apartheid. For us, separation was complete from our birth in hospital to the cemetery that was our final resting place. Separation was total and complete.

We were hardly aware that a revolution was taking place under our feet. It was a diabolically clever and effective way of keeping the races apart and preventing people from getting to know one another, from forming friendships, from understanding one another’s cultures and, critically, from being able to communicate in one another’s languages.

For those of us who crossed those barriers, the stated place between the races, there were consequences, and not only from the government but also from our own community, the people with whom we had a common culture, language, heritage and history. It was a big and daunting step to take, but the gains achieved in becoming part of the liberation struggle far, far outweighed the pain of being caught by the beady eye of the security police. It meant, inevitably, being subjected to the strong-arm tactics common to a fascist regime. It also, very often, meant being ostracised and labelled as a traitor to one’s own kind.

During this time we knew — and I speak here particularly of being part of a women’s organisation called the Black Sash — that on a small island off Cape Town, there were a group of extraordinary men, living in hard and hostile conditions, in small, cold cells, and among them was Nelson Mandela. We knew, and were inspired and given hope by the knowledge that, as surely as day follows night, sooner rather than later, the sun would rise on a South Africa where those heroes, and the many political prisoners throughout the country, would walk the streets of our country in their rightful place as free men and women.

Today, we celebrate the 90th birthday of one of history’s most revered leaders. I recall a day back in 1988, when Comrade Mandela had his 70th birthday, and we in our advice office in Port Elizabeth decided it was cause for a big celebration. So we baked a huge birthday cake, iced it in the colours of the ANC — black, gold and green — with 70 candles. Most of our Eastern Cape leaders — Comrade Fazzie will remember this — were languishing in St Albans Prison at the time because it was during the second state of emergency, but the party went on. Freedom songs were sung and all in all it was a great day. Again, there were consequences. Of course, our advice office was kept under constant surveillance by the security police and within a matter of days I was woken at midnight to be told that our office had been set alight and by the next morning it was a blackened shell. Strong-arm tactics indeed! But the very next day a message came to us from prison which said: Stay strong, Comrades.

Tributes will be pouring in from all over the world as the memorable day of Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday approaches. For each and every one of us, it will have a special meaning. For those of us old enough to have lived through the time of his incarceration, we will recall his extraordinary tenacity and courage during those years of hardship. We used to long for news from Robben Island, always somewhat fearful of what we would hear, but time and again, when the fragments of information came through about the conditions of the prisoners, we were told that Madiba remained steadfast, his head held high, his spirit as strong as ever and he was inspiring his fellow prisoners to study. [Applause.] We would know as the years rolled by that his qualities of leadership remained intact and for us outside his absolute integrity would continue to be an inspiration.

True leadership is a rare quality. Throughout history there have been many fine leaders in different lands and at different times. Great warriors, clever political leaders, passionate revolutionary leaders — all of these have had their place in mankind, but what is unique about our great South African, Nelson Mandela, is that he embodies all these remarkable qualities. He led a revolution in this country that had a peaceful outcome. He guided our country in the five years following the 1994 election with tact and wisdom, leading by example, showing tolerance and refusing to make revenge a part of the policies of the future. He unified the nation, giving all who lived here a common identity as South Africans and laying the foundation of what was translated into the Constitution of this land.

I think each and every one of us owes him an enormous debt of gratitude. Finally, I would like to echo the words of another great hero of South Africa, Comrade Ahmed Kathrada. In his birthday wish to his friend and comrade Nelson Mandela he says:

May you see many more birthdays, may your wisdom and guidance that saw us through thick and thin remain with us, may your unshaken commitment to a nonracial, nonsexist, democratic South Africa continue to flourish and be our beacon for all time.

Thank you. [Applause.]

The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Hon members, I just want to acknowledge a 10- person delegation of senior public servants from the National School of Public Policy in Pakistan. They are in the gallery.

Dr A I VAN NIEKERK: Hon Chair and members, in a sense it is ironic that I should follow on the hon member Chalmers. I come from the previous dispensation and today I stand here and we can profess and acknowledge the same principles. That came about through a man called Nelson Mandela. That is why it is an honour for me to stand here today, with the past in the past, and commemorating an occasion like this in the present. I would really like to congratulate Mr Mandela and wish him fortune for the future. May he experience only pleasant surprises for the rest of his life.

I would also like to thank Mr Mandela for his contribution to creating a firm base for all South Africans so that we could build a rainbow nation and unite our various cultures, coming from diverse directions, in a patriotic South African citizenship. Although we sometimes falter in staying on this course, the route and the direction which President Mandela pointed out to us is still the right way to pursue.

I asked some of my friends what I should say on their behalf on this occasion. The answer was unanimous: Sê vir hom: Baie geluk en dankie. [Tell him: Happy birthday and thank you.] And then the following words: Sê ook vir mnr Mandela: Ons wens hy was 30 jaar jonger sodat hy vir die leiers van vandag kan kom wys hoe dinge reg gedoen moet word. [Applous.] [Also tell Mr Mandela: We wish that he were 30 years younger so that he could come and show today’s leaders how things ought to be done. [Applause.]]

To my mind, this wish is a great tribute to Mr Mandela from ordinary people in the street. I was fortunate to serve in Mr Mandela’s cabinet for more than two years. That in itself was an experience in our effort to map out the new road of democratic South Africa. I remember one specific day, while busy with discussions, he wrote me a letter in perfect Afrikaans after he had returned from a visit to KwaZulu-Natal. He wrote: “Die Koning van die Zoeloes het aan my ’n bees geskenk. U departement kan doen met hom soos u wil.” [Gelag.] Die “hom” het verwys na ’n os, so ons kon nie teel met hom nie. Op die ou einde het ons hom in pakkies in die President se vrieskas gepak. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)

[“The King of the Zulus gave me an ox. Your department can do with him as you please.” [Laughter.] The “him” referred to an ox, so we could not use it for breeding. In the end the ox landed up in packets in the President’s freezer.]

The Afrikaans side of Mr Mandela is relatively unknown. On Robben Island he learned and mastered Afrikaans as a language and was very fond of reading Afrikaans poetry. He could recite many phrases.

Graag wil ek aan u, mnr Mandela, dankie sê vir u gewillige oor en sagte oë waarmee u gekyk het na die taal waarin ek nou met u praat. U het die diepte en wese daarvan en ook van die mense wat dit praat, begryp en grootliks gehelp om Afrikaans van ’n verdoemende verlede te bevry. Ek dank u daarvoor. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)

[Therefore, Mr Mandela, I sincerely want to thank you for the willing ear and soft eyes with which you looked upon the language in which I am addressing you now. You understood the depth and the essence thereof, as well as of the people who speak the language and played a significant role in liberating Afrikaans from its doomed past. I thank you for that.]

You not only freed the Afrikaner of yesterday but you freed all the people of South Africa from our past and made us equal for the future. For that we all thank you and honour you and wish you well.

I also experienced President Mandela’s wrath on an occasion in cabinet when he did not like my comment in the newspapers that whatever advantages Pretoria might have as a site for Parliament, Cape Town was where it would stay. The blazing eyes of Mr Mandela and the stare of reprimand is an experience no one will ever forget. [Laughter.] But I think for once I was right. It is still here.

It was amazing to see how the atmosphere in cabinet changed when President Mandela entered the room. Suddenly the talk was straight. The atmosphere was different. Even today, we experience some of the Madiba magic in this Chamber. Even though Mr Mandela is not physically present, the atmosphere in this Chamber today is different and even festive in comparison to the normal atmosphere that prevails here. The reason? It is the mere presence of Mr Mandela’s name and image in our thoughts. I thank him for this memory. Your example and courage, Mr Mandela, is our inspiration. We honour you as a great man. [Applause.]

The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: Hon members, just a procedural announcement. We have one of our most important guests in the gallery. I want to acknowledge the presence of the president of the ANC, Jacob Zuma. [Applause.] I must apologise, because I was notified late. I wasn’t aware that he was in the Chamber.

Mr I S MFUNDISI: Motlotlegi Modulasetulo wa Khansele ya Bosetšhaba ya Diporofense, Mmusakgotla, le ditokololo tse di tlotlegang, ke a leboga. [Hon Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Madam Speaker as well as hon members, I thank you.]

Ndiziva ndinoyolo olukhulu kukuthatha inxaxheba kulentetho-mpikiswano emalunga neligorha, eli qhawe, le nkokheli, lo mongameli ubawo uMadiba omde. [I feel honoured to be taking part in this debate, which is a birthday tribute to a hero, a champion, a leader and a former President, the tall-as-a-tree Madiba.]

Nelson Mandela is simplicity personified. He is a real doyen of South African politics and started pursuing the truth from his youth. Nelson Mandela has been a blessing to this country. He has come to be an international icon, who has been described as coming second only after Coca- Cola as a brand. [Laughter.] He is so analogous with South Africa that whenever the name Mandela is mentioned, South Africa is mentioned, and the converse. As a statesman he has shown how it is done. Those who doubted his ability were made to eat humble pie when he showed his mettle at the World Trade Centre in the first sitting of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa in December 1999 in Kempton Park. He asked for the privilege to say something of national importance and then tore into the then President de Klerk, doing so “go kgalema lenyatso” [to call him to order].

Mandela is confident and sure of himself. That is why he never hesitates to acknowledge the good that some people have done, regardless of them being his opponents. On 15 March 1994, when he stepped into the Mmabatho Convention Centre, he never hesitated to speak out and say that that imposing building was no different from any one in a large city. He instantaneously said that if Kgosi Mangope had built this imposing structure in this area, he deserved to be forgiven. This is the view he holds even to this day, while lesser mortals hold different views.

We have it on good authority that once he called those who were inclined to hunt with the hounds and run with the hare and told them that as much as he appreciated their conversion to the ANC, he was not happy that they left no legacy of infrastructure, as Kgosi Mangope at least did.

Madiba the statesman has proved to the world that umntu omnyama [a black person], given the chance, can work wonders. Almost every visitor, be they tourists, sportsmen and women, artists, whoever, wishes to shake his hand. He is able to come to the level of the lowliest and equally rise to the higher levels when occasion demands. He is for all waters as much as he is a man for all seasons.

It does not matter where one is, locally or overseas, because people speak of him in glowing terms. Even those who incarcerated him look at him in awe as he never showed signs of vindictiveness, despite having been denied freedom for 27 years.

Madiba rose to the occasion when he gave Bill Clinton a lifeline and a shoulder to cry on when the latter was beleaguered in the Monica Lewinsky debacle, when all friends had deserted the then president of America. He is the type of man who will not kick a fallen man in the teeth. He is empathy and integrity personified. As a man of high moral ideals and standards, Mandela has never made it a secret that he has lost patience with President Mugabe regarding the latter’s misrule in Zimbabwe. He lambasted President George Bush when he defied even the United Nations and attacked Iraq. It did not matter to him that Bush was the president of a so-called superpower in the world. To him, morality is the only yardstick.

This charismatic father of the South African nation led this country from literal bondage and the precipice of disaster to a land of hope. He led from the front in welding the nation into one that is now a united, nonsexist, nonracist and democratic nation.

We wish this nonagenarian to grow from strength to strength. We wish him longevity and pray for his strength, that he may enjoy his birthday on 18 July in good health, peace and happiness.

Wanga uSomandla angakhusela, asikelele ze athamsanqelise eli gorha linguBawo uMandela. Ndiyabulela. [Kwaqhwatywa.] [May the Lord protect, grace and bless our hero, Mr Mandela. I thank you. [Applause.]]

Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, colleagues, South Africa, Africa and the world is extremely grateful to the Almighty for giving us and sparing us our greatest treasure and icon, Madiba, for these 90 years. On behalf of the MF, and especially our leader Mr A Rajbansi, we convey our greetings and well wishes to the great father of our nation, the hon Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

There are a few individuals in world history who have exceptional personal principles above others. Forgiveness, peace, unity and reconciliation are the building blocks which Madiba has given us. This is a great legacy. He is a great unifier of the nation and nations. He is loved and revered by people across the political community and across language and ethnic divides. Imprisoned for a large portion of his life and kept away from his family, friends and people, we were all in awe, with the rest of the world, on his release from prison that he had no bitterness. He is an example to us. As he said, “We shall forgive but we shall never forget.”

Sizoxola kodwa ngeke sikhohlwe. [Ihlombe.] [We shall forgive, but we shall never forget. [Applause.]]

He embraced those who had created havoc in our country and has given high values and principles to our people. It is a known fact that Madiba and the leader of the MF, Mr A Rajbansi, have a long-standing friendship. I was one of the few privileged to be at the lunch table when Madiba had a private lunch at Mr Rajbansi’s residence in Chatsworth, and I shall treasure that for all my life. We thank Madiba for regularly engaging with the MF throughout his Presidency.

We must never forget what Madiba stood for and for which he was prosecuted and sacrificed. As a nation, we need to imbue ourselves with the values and principles that Madiba has taught us. Through all his challenges, he has taught us the strength of forgiveness and greatness of unity. His words, “Let us hold hands together to build a great future”, shall echo forever. His efforts and dedication to our people ventured way beyond his Presidency and way beyond the corners of Africa to all countries across the globe. At his strong age of 90 years, our beloved Madiba, father and friend, continues to dedicate the days he has to us.

Recently he has taken a highly principled stand against violence on fellow Africans and the situation in neighbouring countries. His Foundation has its hand in tackling every challenge we have faced. He has the world’s trust, respect and support as a result of his selflessness and sacrifice for humanity.

Madiba is South Africa, he is Africa and he is one of God’s greatest souls. We thank the Almighty for giving us this opportunity to experience, share and celebrate this wonderful being, Madiba. We are confident that, in 10 years, our Parliament shall once again come together to celebrate his 100th birthday.

We call on the nation to revive the spirit and purpose with which Tata welcomed democracy for us, the vision he had for our people and the hunger that he had for equality, freedom and the development of our people. We shall shout and embrace Madiba’s words of 14 May 1994, when he said:

Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience oppression from one by another.

I take this opportunity to wish Tata a very happy 90th birthday, and I cannot express enough gratitude and admiration for his high spirit, kindness and selflessness. You are, Tata, a true example of humility, modesty and godliness. I pray that God shall spare you many more years with us so that we may reap of your values, wisdom and greatness. Let us learn from our Tata not to run away from darkness but to light a candle. A very happy 90th birthday to the world’s greatest humanitarian, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. I thank you. [Applause.]

Mr M T LIKOTSI: Chairperson, I feel highly honoured to speak on the 90th birthday celebration debate of the former President of the Republic, Mr Nelson Mandela.

On an occasion such as this, let me first introduce my party to the person I am going to pay tribute to, Mr Nelson Mandela, for him to fully understand who we are. I know he is watching us, wherever he is. [Interjections.]

The African People’s Convention, the APC, is a party of our democratic dispensation. Our vision is to be a viable, credible, progressive, alternative governing party in South Africa. Our mission is meeting the economic, social, political and cultural needs of our people through mass mobilisation. [Interjections.] We are an alternative voice for our country.

I am flabbergasted and shocked, though, by the honour bestowed upon me to speak on the occasion of the birthday of such a great man, a stalwart, a man for all seasons. What more can I say? He is a man who has stood the test of time, a wonder to our growing nation, giving us “Madiba magic”.

I further feel too small to talk about uTata Mandela. I don’t think I deserve such an opportunity. I am told … [Applause.] … that only great men can speak about other great men. I don’t think there could be any living being who could say anything about uTata Mandela convincingly. It won’t be exhaustive and it will never attempt to be satisfying to its audiences. I am trying to say that no utterances on uTata Mandela will do him justice as you will be accused of not having touched on this and that aspect of this tower among towers. uTata Mandela, if I may say so, is not an ordinary person; he is a rare breed.

The first time I personally met uTata Mandela, when I had direct contact with him, was in June 2003, in his office at the Mandela Children’s Fund offices. He had a beaming welcome that made me feel so special. After he had outlined his purpose for inviting us, he was all over us with jokes to ease our tension. One further thing I could clearly remember was when he said, “The country needs all of us to be prosperous. The freedom we have cannot be claimed by a single individual or party but belongs to everyone of us.” Then it was back to business for this great man, who was giving us a quick lecture.

Let the writer of books dry up the ink of their pens through this giant. A further call is made to historians to preserve the legacy of this mountain. Let the most eloquent and greatest men and women of our country, those who are blessed with sincerity, speak about uTata Mandela. I don’t think this country has produced a person who is fit to speak about uTata Madiba without any challenge from whatever quarter. Long live uTata Mandela! Happy birthday to you. Long live the father of the nation! [Applause.]

The DEPUTY MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS: Thank you, Chair. Comrade Zweli, I thought I was going to speak immediately after the hon Rajbally of the MF, in which case I was going to say to you that the House was going to get a good serving of Indian breyani. [Laughter.]

Comrade Chair, Madam Speaker, Premiers, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, president of the ANC Comrade Jacob Zuma, Comrade Deputy President Motlanthe, hon members of this Joint Sitting, our patriotic youth and compatriots who are here in the public gallery, our nation and the international community at large, this Joint Session of Parliament goes into recess by celebrating the birth, life, era and lifetime contribution of one of South Africa’s and, indeed, Africa’s greatest sons and leaders — our past President, our revered Isithwalandwe Comrade Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Listening to the speakers from the various political parties one cannot help but be astounded at how, even today, Comrade Mandela is the absolute focal point of national unity, the symbol of national unity and the cement of the nation in our country.

In his biography, Long Walk to Freedom, Comrade Nelson Mandela said that all the time that he was in prison he always knew that some day he would once again feel the grass under his feet and walk in the sunshine as a free man. This is the moral lesson he imparts to us. It speaks to us and especially to the youth to instruct us that no matter what the adversity that one faces in life, whether as an individual, a nation or a country, we must be able to visualise a better future for ourselves as both a country and a nation.

As we mark the Youth Parliament this week and pay tribute to Madiba on his 90th birthday, it is crucial that all of us, especially our youth, focus as a nation and a country on the leadership of the founding mothers and fathers of our democratic country. We need a role model like Madiba to show us the way as we continue to forge a better future for all of us who have made South Africa our home.

Now, more than ever before, we and the youth in particular must draw on the aspirations, inspiration, ethos and philosophy of our former President, who said in his book: “The victory of democracy in South Africa is about the common achievement of all the people of this country.”

This is the legacy he and the founders of our democracy have left for us that we must revisit, reclaim and take inspiration from on this, his 90th birthday. Madiba taught us to steer away from the narrow nationalism that will fracture our common humanity and turn African against African, tribe against tribe, race against race and one nationality forged by borders against another, different nationality.

After 27 years of imprisonment, Madiba tended to love instead of hate his former incarcerators. It is his sense of humanity, humaneness and respect for diversity that needs to inform, underpin and underline our own political outlook today.

Notwithstanding these 27 years of imprisonment, his character throughout his life exudes humanism and a total absence of rancour and bitterness, founded on the conviction that all men, even the most seemingly cold- blooded, has a core of decency and if their hearts were touched they were capable of being changed.

Commenting on this, Madiba further said that prison itself was a tremendous education in the need for patience and perseverance. It is, above all, a test of one’s own commitments.

His is a dignity rooted in a profound sense of self, based not on one’s contempt for one’s enemy but on an acknowledgement of a shared humanity, a self-worth acknowledged with both pride and humility and which prompted him from an early age to deal with others on an equal footing and with what he himself has called a “stubborn sense of fairness”.

The years he spent in jail gave him a new depth, helped him to be more understanding of the foibles of others, to be more generous, more tolerant and more magnanimous and gave him an unassailable credibility and integrity.

Such is the humility of the man that even after many years of struggle he would say at the treason trial that he was simply the symbol of justice in the court of the oppressors; a representative of the great ideas of freedom, fairness and democracy in a society that dishonoured those values.

It was Mahatma Gandhi who said, “Let us be the change that we seek in the world.” At the time when the Indian community was striving to be a committed and contributing force in the freedom struggle, we all saw Mandela as the epitome of all the Gandhian values and our beacon of truth and justice.

Madiba, you gave to us international respect and a claim as both a country and a nation. You have raised the flag of South Africa and Africa the world over. You branded us as among the very best in the world, worthy of respect and international recognition.

He walked free and with him a nation began to walk to freedom. He became a head of state, and it seemed as if patience and justice had created a new brand of politics for the people, one without bigotry or repression.

Writing in 1999 about the era of this President, which at the time was about to come to close, the renowned South African writer André Brink described his life as the life of a man who had become a saintly icon for the world.

At the end of that millennium, at the time when the world’s media were trying to pick a “man of the century”, the leader of all leaders, the name of Nelson Mandela featured rather prominently alongside that of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Junior. He stands out as an icon in his own right, exceptional and unique. His life is a symbol not only of the principles and values of the nation but the embodiment of hope for the entire world. He has come to symbolise the triumph of the human spirit against all adversity and the creation of hope for humanity as a whole.

Words cannot sufficiently and comprehensively convey our sense of appreciation to you, Madiba, for the service that you have rendered and continue to render to us as a country and as a nation.

On behalf of the ANC, its leadership and its members, the political parties in Parliament here, the nation as a whole, we congratulate you, Madiba, on your 90th birthday. Oh, father of our founding democracy, we pay tribute to you for the many gifts that you have bequeathed us as a country and a nation. Your contribution to our country and the nation continues to be the gift that is forever giving. We continue to draw inspiration and lessons from your leadership and contribution to both the development of our movement, the deepening of our democracy and the creation of a better life for all our people.

We are indeed thankful to you for the many years of sacrifice and service you have given to our country and our people and the inspiring role model that you continue to be to us as a country, community and nation.

From all of us, we say, “Long live Madiba!” Thank you from a grateful nation and country on your 90th birthday for living a very purposeful life. Viva Mandela, viva! [Applause.]

Dr S E M PHEKO: Madam Speaker, I’m not quite in my element this morning. I should have left this morning for KwaZulu-Natal, where I have lost a sister, but I did feel that it was important for me to say a few words on this important occasion.

May I say, then, that during the liberation struggle of our country against apartheid and colonialism, I spoke in many international fora, including the United Nations in New York and the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. My many activities included the exposure of apartheid atrocities in this country and campaigns for the release of all political prisoners on Robben Island, such as Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe, Nelson Mandela, Zephania Mothopeng, Walter Sisulu, Nyathi Pokela, Govan Mbeki and Jafta Masemola. I had faith in the ultimate triumph of our struggle, but I never knew that one day I would be at this podium and in this Parliament, wishing Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela — now popularly known as Madiba — well on his birthday.

Indeed, James Russell Lowell was right when he said:

Truth is forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne, yet that scaffold sways the future and behind the dim unknown standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

It is my great pleasure to salute Madiba and wish him a grand 90th birthday. It is an extraordinary birthday of a man who has lived his life for others — sometimes at the expense of his own people in his quest for a harmonious humanity. Madiba has touched many lives all over the world. He deserves an extraordinary, spectacular and happy birthday.

I want to conclude by simply saying that some of the things I admire about Madiba are his sense of humour, tolerance, perseverance in struggle and, I believe, diligence. I also admire the fact that he has been in retirement and yet he has not retired. But in the true liberation struggle, it is not like coming to Parliament and then leaving Parliament. Liberation is a lifelong thing, particularly when we consider that there is economic liberation to come and must come, otherwise our political power is as empty as a … as what? [Laughter.] [Applause.]

Mr L M GREEN: Madam Speaker, hon Ministers, Premiers, members and the youth in the gallery, it is indeed a great honour to be counted among those who make a contribution to this debate. In honouring Madiba on his 90th birthday, the FD believes that it is also fitting to celebrate the legacy of this great leader. We can say with conviction that Madiba is, indeed, the father of our new democracy. When we recognise him as the father of our new democracy, we do not minimise the role of all those who sacrificed and died for this democracy. We do not at all minimise the role played by other great leaders, such as Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Andrew Mlangeni, Robert Sobukwe and many others who languished in prison.

What we are indeed doing today is to pay tribute to a man who, at great sacrifice, played a pivotal role in the formation of our new democracy and who became the first President of the new South Africa. A father figure in any society is one who earns respect, who is able to lead with a shepherd’s heart, who is willing to undergo sacrifice for a greater good, who is an inspiration, who is uncompromising on humanitarian values and whose sons and daughters hope to emulate the ways of their father.

Mr Mandela’s legacy, as the father figure of this land, has shaped the democracy we aspire to build on. He is a true symbol of unity, nonpartisanship and reconciliation. He was the President of the people. He ruled wisely and knew how to manage power. The day he left political office, he could hand over to the next generation of leaders a country brimming with the potential to become one of the greatest nations of the world. He has not failed as a true father of this land.

We celebrate the birthday of this formidable statesman according to the promise in the Bible, which states that “happy is the man who honours his mother and father for his days shall be lengthened in the land of his birth” - and he is such a man. The FD believes the reason that we are still blessed to have the presence of Madiba among us is because of the love he has shown towards his elders and his motherland. It is this presence that continues to benefit the land and inspires the belief that Madiba’s prevailing spirit of grace, integrity and statesmanship will remain the foundation of this country. He has lived for one purpose in life and that was spelled out in his last speech in Parliament when he said, and I quote:

I belong to the generation of leaders for whom the achievement of democracy was the defining challenge.

Like any good father figure, he is probably asking himself whether he has done enough to forge a truly democratic society.

Madiba’s legacy is the one that still truly binds this nation together. Yet he is a man who valued the insights and wisdom of others, and he respected them as equal to himself. He knows that a nation is built by collective wisdom and vision. His is a legacy that is informed by the role of others. He has given recognition to those of his generation and hoped that history would appreciate their contribution to society. Of himself he said, in that final parliamentary speech, and I quote: “I will not be found wanting against the measure of their fortitude and vision.”

History will recount that Madiba measured up well in being faithful and seeing out his purpose as a stalwart of democracy. His wisdom is still as fresh today as it was when he stood up for justice and freedom against the apartheid regime. Mr Mandela understands and realises that we are created to share in the wellbeing of one another. He knows that where wisdom is absent, greed and hostility operate.

As we celebrate Madiba’s 90th birthday, we do so in respect of his contribution to a number of areas he has influenced and continues to influence. He is a family man and we wish him the peace and happiness which is possible only when surrounded by a supportive wife, loving children and grandchildren.

In conclusion, we are also reminded that Madiba is a gift from God to South Africa, and we wish him to open up to the closeness and presence of God in whom there is love and friendship. On behalf of the FD, I wish you a happy birthday, Madiba. You have been and still is a blessing to this nation. May we, in this House, follow your example. I conclude with your words:

Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. I thank you. [Applause.]

Mr S SIMMONS: Madam Speaker, while I was a member of the NNP prior to 1994, the overwhelming majority of our supporters viewed Mr Nelson Mandela with a reasonable degree of suspicion as the new head of state. Needless to say, today the majority of those people long for Mandela’s highly respected statesmanship and leadership. I therefore find it easy to concur with my colleagues about the almost unmatched and above-average sense of fairness and justice of Mr Mandela.

Mr Mandela’s legacy was ushered in with his famous statement:

During my life, I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunity.

This statement by Mr Mandela undeniably shows that he never intended one group to be favoured above another, as was the case in the previous dispensation. It is said that Mr Mandela has warned against moving away from the people. Having said this, I wish to call on the hon members of this House and, in particular, hon members of the ANC to measure their policy and conduct against the value benchmark set by the hon Mr Mandela because we in the NA are not convinced it is currently the case. Statements such as the one made by the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission, Mr Jody Kollapen, earlier this year, that Mr Mandela had placed too much emphasis on reconciliation, must be condemned as it failed to recognise Mr Mandela’s true contribution to a peaceful settlement and therefore to laying the foundation of the new South Africa.

The NA wishes to take this opportunity to extend its best wishes to one of our country’s greatest leaders, the father of the nation, and to give a sincere word of thanks for his unselfish and continued service and dedication to South Africa and its children and, indeed, the world. Happy birthday, Madiba! [Applause.]

Ms M SMUTS: Madam Speaker, soon after Mr Mandela left office I proposed to Parliament that we should commission a statue of him and erect it here in the precinct, preferably in front of the pillared and pediment entrance of this House. To commemorate a person who is still blessedly with us departs from convention. He was also the leader of the executive, not the legislature, and he was the first President elected by a fully democratic Parliament before he moved next door to Tuynhuys. There was a need then and there remains a need now to reflect in this place the fact that we are one nation with one history. In fact, that need is very great now.

Last week the bronze head of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was struck off its body in East London. That statue was a representation of the moment when the Archbishop spread his arms out along the table in front of him — you will remember — at the first public hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the East London City Hall and he dropped his head forward, overcome with emotion. That moment became iconic and the fact that that statue’s head was left lying contemptuously on the table now tells us that this may not have been an act of mindless vandalism or theft. The decapitation of the Archbishop looks like iconoclasm. It looks like the rejection of unity and reconciliation.

What a contrast the political climate today strikes with the period when Mr Mandela was our President. He was and remains the personification of unity and reconciliation which, do not forget, we constitutionalised in the form of the postamble to the interim Constitution – the one that made the amnesty provisions possible. He was the embodiment of one united nation.

It was wonderful to have him here. He was like a prophet and a movie star all rolled into one; or a rock star, perhaps, considering where he is today. He could be as thunderous as Ezekiel. Who will forget the shock of his anger at Codesa? But he normally had the charm of the person who is, as the French say, comfortable in his own skin. Here, he used to bring the House down. When he needed a drink of water while speaking at this podium, he would be the first to interrupt himself by raising his glass and saying “Cheers!” Others have done it since, but he was the first. It brought the House down. It was with the backing of three political parties in 2000 that I made that proposal for the statue. I want to repeat the proposal. Mr Mandela’s statue should dominate these precincts, but General Louis Botha should remain mounted on his horse at the gate. He must not be moved away, as the hon Mawalal Ramgobin proposed. The hon Mawalal at least accepted the proposal for Mr Mandela’s statue, but the proposal kind of disappeared into a committee. What happened? Where is the ANC on this? Why is there only one statue — which does Mr Mandela no justice — in the commercial precinct in Johannesburg? Where is the ANC on this? Where is the ANC today? Only five speakers out of 20? You are entitled to the vast majority of the time. Where is the ANC today?

We are one nation with one history. We reflect that fact in our anthem. We reflect it in our public holidays. We should reflect it in our public art and we must start here in Parliament. [Applause.]

Mr J M SIBIYA: Madam Speaker, Madam Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, hon Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, Your Excellency the President of the Republic in absentia, former head of ANC intelligence, former chief representative of the ANC in Mozambique, former head of the ANC and the Umkhonto weSizwe military high command in KwaZulu- Natal … [Applause.] … former Deputy President of both the ANC and the Republic, and now the president of the ANC, Comrade Msholozi Jacob Zuma, bayethe! [Applause.]

This is the second time that I speak in a Joint Sitting of the National Assembly, this time in a shirt from Nigeria and with my speech in a folder from Russia. [Laughter.] Comrade Deputy President of the ANC, comrades, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, we are celebrating 90 years of a life dedicated to the struggle against injustice, crime and cruelty; a life which for more than 40 years was lived under police surveillance and in and out of prison; a life which for 27 years was lived in a maximum security prison. I’m referring here to the life of a man whose contribution to a just society, with equality in political terms, earned the honour and respect of the whole world. This is the life of a man who was able to secretly undergo military training in Algeria, under then President Ben Bella, and in Ethiopia, under Emperor Haile Selassie.

I am making specific reference here to the life of former President Mandela and the role he played in consolidating the liberation movement and the anti-apartheid stream we had in this country. We might remember that during the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s we did have members in the ANC who were not comfortable with the ANC co-operating with anti-apartheid whites, Coloureds, Indians and the Communist Party of SA. Comrade Nelson Mandela was one of those who were assigned by the movement to do a lot of explaining, and in the end that bore fruit: We had the Congress Alliance. Today we have the tripartite alliance of the ANC, Cosatu and the SA Communist Party … [Applause.] … and in that respect we will never err or falter. We will guard it until we reach the destination of our liberation struggle.

Former President Mandela was once referred to and characterised by Leslie Harriman, a former chairperson of the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid and a career diplomat from Nigeria — that’s why this shirt — as a symbol of Africa’s resistance to colonial rule, and correctly so.

Comrade Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected President in this country, lived his life — and still does — according to one basic and fundamental philosophical belief: that any revolutionary will be able to survive and to surmount all the storms as long as he or she is able to combine personal interest with the public interest and subordinate personal interest to public interest. That is what Comrade Mandela has taught us. [Applause.]

The life that we are celebrating, comrades, ladies and gentlemen, fits very well in the political equation by a famous writer from what used to be Czechoslovakia, in his book Naked among Wolves. This writer wrote, and I quote:

Any revolution has people who are able to struggle for 10 years, for instance, which is good; there are people who are able to struggle for 20 years, which is better; there are others who are still able to struggle for 30 years, which is better still; but there are those who are able to struggle for the whole of their lives …

Comrade Mandela is one of those. [Applause.]

He concluded by saying, “It is such people without whom no revolution can do.” In our case, people like Comrade Mandela are the people without whom the South African revolution cannot do. [Applause.]

How many lessons have we learned from Comrade Mandela? How many lessons are actually there for us to learn? They are so many. Some of them may not be easily absorbed by some of us, but there is one basic one that I think each one of us would do well to assimilate, and that is that unflinching revolutionaries, every day and always, go about fulfilling revolutionary duties without expecting any reward both on earth and in heaven. [Laughter.]

The life we are celebrating has a lot of lessons to do with discipline. When Comrade Mandela was a prisoner, whatever instruction was given to him, he carried out ably. At some stage he came out of prison and, while under house arrest, went to Pietermaritzburg to address a meeting of the ANC. From there he went underground. The police then learnt that he was undergoing military training in Algeria, where he was trained in conventional warfare. He became a general who did not have an army to command at that point in time. [Laughter.]

We might also remember that when the ANC was banned in 1960, leaders of this great movement met — by the way, this was all underground — discussed and agreed on the way forward. They agreed that there was no way the struggle could be abandoned. Instead, new tactics had to be devised, which resulted in the armed struggle being adopted.

The first thing that was done after that was to request a few comrades — and Comrade Mandela was one of them — to go to Comrade Inkosi Chief Luthuli, the president-general of the ANC, who was under house arrest at the time, to explain to him that the struggle had to continue, but along this, that and the other line. The president gave the go-ahead.

That was the reason that it was only in 1990 when the armed struggle was suspended - I want to emphasise “suspended”, not “abandoned”. [Applause.] I know that when I say things like this, some people begin to feel: Oh, does he then mean that there is a possibility of resuming the armed struggle? That I can’t tell; it is history that will tell. [Laughter.]

Before I conclude my speech, let me remind this august House of what one of the most important writers in this world, Thompson Dudley — not hon Dudley who spoke here … [Laughter.] — wrote in his book titled They are all Africans. It might have been written a long time ago, but it still has some significance even today. Referring to former President Mandela, he wrote, and I quote:

His personal example and his political vision give him exceptional stature among his fellow South Africans, irrespective of race or colour. In the entire world, he has become a veritable icon.

Before I conclude, I want to say this to President Mandela: We, the ANC, will never falter in the instructions he gave us and on the road he has charted for us. We will continue to fight until all our people have a better life.

However, we will need his advice here and there. We will need to hear his voice so that we can learn from both his experience and wisdom. [Applause.]

The SPEAKER: Hon members, as you are aware, the Youth Parliament met yesterday and is meeting again this morning. The Youth Parliament has adopted a declaration in honour of Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s 90th birthday, which reads as follows:

We, the representatives of the youth of South Africa, attending the 2008 Youth Parliament in Cape Town, recognising former President Mandela’s particular affection for the youth and his exceptional contribution to their development, convey to him our very best wishes on the occasion of his 90th birthday; pledge to him our commitment to devote our futures to being of service to our country and its people; and undertake to keep his legacy alive by conducting ourselves in accordance with the principles of dignity, fairness and respect for others that he espouses.

I recognise the Youth Parliament members who are sitting in the gallery this morning, and I actually place this declaration on the record, because I believe that this is a historic moment for the 90-year-old leader, to have inspired the youth so much that they hand such a declaration to this Joint Sitting. [Applause.]

Hon members, I also wish to add that a tree-planting ceremony in honour of Mr Mandela’s 90th birthday is being planned. We plan to plant 90 trees. When the new precincts of Parliament are finally erected from next year onwards, those trees will be transferred to those precincts, because we believe that Madiba shows us the way forward. So, although we did look at the recommendation made by the hon Smuts, we believe that Madiba is part of the future. Hon members will be informed of the details with regard to the tree-planting ceremony in due course.

Debate concluded.

The Speaker adjourned the Joint Sitting at 11.52.