LEADERS: Politicians should take a leaf out of Mandela's book


IT is improper to brand all political leaders as corrupt and power crazy. There are many who are honest and put people and national interest above all others.

Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, is a living testimony.

South Africa suffered for decades under the white rule of the National Party, which practised apartheid. Mandela languished in prison for 27 years.

While in prison, many dignitaries and International Red Cross delegates visited him. He once said: "Red Cross was the beacon of humanity within the dark inhuman world of political imprisonment."

In 1989, president P.W. Botha suffered a stroke and was succeeded by F.W. de Klerk.

Pressure from the local and international communities forced de Klerk to release Mandela on Feb 11, 1990.

In the same year, Mandela was elected deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC).

Mandela negotiated with de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994 in which he led ANC to a landslide victory.

He was the oldest elected president of South Africa when he took office at the age of 75 in 1994.

In a display of magnanimity, Mandela allowed de Klerk to remain in the official presidential palace while he occupied a Cape Dutch mansion.

He rose to prominence as he led his nation out of apartheid and into the modern era. His priority was building a nation and reconciling with former enemies.

He introduced policies aimed at land reform, eradicating poverty and expanding healthcare.

However, he refused to run for a second term. In 1999, he was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki.

After retiring from politics, he focused on combating poverty and HIV/AIDS.

Mandela has received more than 250 international awards and the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, which he shared with de Klerk.

Mandela's statesmanship and personal attributes have inspired millions. Aspiring politicians should emulate him.

Nelson Mandela, 95, holding his great-grandson Zen Manaway, 1, in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Feb 2. AP pic

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