Will Madiba’s principles live on?

South Africans should elect leaders who will follow Mandela’s footsteps and put people’s needs first.

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After drawing the curtains on 2013, South Africans should prepare for an important year in which they must deal with harsh realities. One of them is that they will enter the new year without Tata Nelson Mandela. In my opinion, Mandela succeeded in unifying our country. We witnessed how, even in death, he still managed to bring people from all over the world together.

After his death, a lot of questions remain a concern. What will happen to our country? Will all hell break loose as doomsayers have predicted? Will the Madiba magic remain behind? Will the world still look at us in the same way as when he was still alive? Will we look at ourselves in the same way as we have been doing all these years? Only time will tell.  The year 2014 is also important because in just a few months, we will be faced with a monumental event – South Africa’s national elections. We will be electing people supposed to lead us into a new era – one without Mandela.

Madiba, the legend
I am not going to remind anyone of the kind of leader Mandela was. His long walk to freedom and the results thereof are visible for anyone to witness. So as we prepare and decide who these future leaders will be, it is important that we ask ourselves how we would like them to lead us.

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Primarily, we have to find out if they are likely to be leaders like Mandela, who chose people’s needs over his own, or whether they will be self-serving. As much as we understand that there will never be another Mandela, we should expect current and future leaders to live up to the principles he stood for. This is especially so as these are the people who keep reminding us, at every opportunity they find, that Mandela belonged to a certain movement.

Read: Remembering Madiba

Most importantly, we expect those campaigning for our votes to ask themselves what kind of leaders they are. Are they going to be leaders who, after the death of Mandela, praise and quote him even though their actions are different?
Will there be more Nkandlas or R20 million buffalo while the people of South Africa live in abject poverty?

Will these concerns continue to be ignored while citizens pay taxes to fund some leaders’ lavish lifestyles? Will we continue to see what happened in Marikana, where workers were gunned down by our police? The aftermath of the elections will shed light on these matters.

Leadership in agriculture
I would, however, like to point out that these questions are not only directed to leaders in government, but to those in different areas, such as the agricultural sector. There are things that I would like to see as South Africa moves forward, such as fewer farm strikes and more unity from both farmer and worker organisations, as well as these individuals working together towards common goals. One of these should be to ensure that no child goes to bed hungry.

On a more positive note, may I wish you and your loved ones peace and prosperity in the New Year.