Mbeki on a Post-Mandela South Africa
In 2006 South African President Thabo Mbeki presented the Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture at the University of Witwatersrand. Aware Mandela’s health was declining, Mbeki spoke of Mandela’s legacy, and the world that he will leave behind.
South African President Mbeki, who spoke of “a good, a moral, a humane and a caring South Africa,” headed the memorial lecture. He spoke of harmony, peace, and forgiveness as the tenants of the “new South Africa.” Mbeki believes South Africa still needs a “Reconstruction and development of the soul,” as Mandela used to say. Alluding to a new period of economic growth and infrastructure modernization, the South African President says Mandela’s message must not die with him.
“All revolutions…are in the end, and in essence, concerned with human beings and the improvement of the human condition…we must also say that human fulfillment consists of more than access to modern and effective services,” says Mbeki. Modernization includes “the soul” of human society. A society can build up infrastructure, grow GDP, and invite investment, but if the collective soul of society is sick, it can never advance. Mbeki spoke of satisfying the spiritual needs of the people as well as the economic needs for survival.
The leader looks to capitalism as an economic provider, but not a spiritual provider. “Unsure of what they stand for, people increasingly rely on money as the criterion of value,” says George Soros. “People deserve respect and admiration because they are rich. What used to be a medium of exchange has usurped the place of fundamental values, reserving the relationship postulated by economic theory.”
Critic of capitalism, Mbeki says laissez-faire income redistribution is unjust, prompting a “survival of the fittest” mentality in an unequal world. Mbeki believes economic and social development relies on cooperation rather than competition, saying “nothing can come out of [competition] except the destruction of human society.”
President Thabo Mbeki says the best way to remember Mandela’s legacy is to band together, cooperating rather than competing, for a better South Africa. Mandela spent his whole life nurturing the soul of human society, and now this job has been handed down to the South African people he loved so dearly.
– Stephanie Lamm
Sources: International Relations and Cooperation, Nelson Mandela