Some of the core values that former president Nelson Mandela stood for included attaining freedom for the marginalised, providing service to both his country and its citizens as well as affording dignity to those he represented, and his own dignity in standing up to his accusers.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leaders said it was in honour of these values that they chose to mark Mandela day through attending the public hearings on the possible review of section 25 of the Constitution, in Taung, North West, on Wednesday.
“We are delighted that [Nelson Mandela day] coincides with the public hearings on the amendments of section 25 of our Constitution. The leadership of the EFF commemorates Mandela Day by listening to the people, many of whom are landless and still have no access to the means of production in this country,” said EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
The EFF leadership was also noticeably absent from the much-anticipated Nelson Mandela annual lecture delivered by former US president Barack Obama on Tuesday as the party snubbed the grandiose festivities, opting instead to participate in the land hearings at a packed Taung community hall.
The party maintained that the current public hearings on land expropriation without compensation “were one of the best ways to honour former president Nelson Mandela”, who would have turned 100 years old on Wednesday.
Reflecting on Mandela’s legacy and the centenary celebrations Ndlozi said the EFF was grateful for the generation of freedom fighters like Madiba who brought political freedom but added that freedom was still incomplete without economic emancipation.
“That is why we decided to take the baton from them because political freedom without economic freedom is inadequate, it is incomplete. We are continuing the struggle by fighting for economic freedom which Nelson Mandela did not secure or could not secure,” said Ndlozi.
At the land hearings, people concurred with the party’s views, as exemplified by a resident who identified herself as Selina Mokgosi. She thanked the party “for listening and acting on behalf of poor and marginalised South Africans”.
“I logged a land claim in 1996 and the claim was approved in 1998. After the approval nothing happened until Julius Malema stepped in following me going to his offices in Braamfontein. After his involvement I was given my land,” said Mokgosi.
A majority of the attendees shared Mokgosi’s sentiments and also said they wished that section 25 would be changed in “order to enable the fast-tracking of the land redistribution process”.
The EFF have been very vocal on the fact that they, along with the Cope’s Mosiuoa Lekota, have been the only parties that have availed themselves “to such a critical debate in South Africa’s history”.
Malema, in a media briefing earlier this month, said “if the plight of the poor still prevailed, the relevance of the EFF will always remain.
“Unlike the ANC which is fast becoming a party for the elite and has no ground soldiers, the EFF is still in tune with the realities of poor South Africans.”
The IFP national executive committee spent the day donating items at a crèche in Bottlebrush Informal Settlement, Chatsworth while DA leader Mmusi Maimane read to children at Lotanang Primary School.
The ANC, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, handed over blankets to the elderly after officially unveiling the newly built HRH Nosekeni Nongaphi Mandela Clinic in Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape.
In a rare show of togetherness Ramaphosa was also joined by former presidents Jacob Zuma and Kgalema Motlanthe for a tree-planting ceremony at Mandela’s royal house in Mvezo.