Langa Bodlani MPL
Limpopo Provincial Legislature
Note: Snap Debate on Nelson Mandela by Honourable Langa Bodlani (MPL)
Ah ! Dalibunga
Madam Speaker, Honourable Premier and Honourable members allow me on behalf of the DA to join millions of the people of the globe to celebrate the greatest South African to have ever lived.
None dares dispute the assertion that Mandela is in the pinnacle of the greatest human beings to define our century.
His life, from its very beginning was a prophecy fulfilled.
He was given a name Rolihlahla whose colloquial meaning is to stir up trouble.
Indeed he did stir up trouble. He became the voice of the voiceless against the oppressive Apartheid regime.
He became a symbol of hope for millions of the oppressed around the globe.
Mandela refused to let the threats to his own person or that of his family to lead to perpetual subjugation of his people.
Unlike our modern day politicians, his was not mere demagogy.
Mandela, yours was not a mere political posturing aimed at stirring up our people’s emotions with no sense of a principled political direction.
In the 1954 case of Incorporated Law Society v Mandela, his peers in the law fraternity sought to have his name removed because of his principle position against injustice.
His chief role in the defiance campaign could not be blemished even by the apartheid courts.
He came out triumphantly.
Not even the apartheid courts could find against him when he refused the threat of disbarment to define his role as a lawyer.
This case later became an essential part of the curriculum to teach future lawyers what is to lead ethically from the front.
Today, as we sit in these legislatures, it is that civic centeredness that we must emulate.
In the case to which I have just mentioned, Dr. Mandela is quoted as saying and I quote Madam Speaker,
“This is the dilemma which faced us, and in such a dilemma, men of honesty, men of purpose, and men of public morality and of conscience can only have one answer. They must follow the dictates of their conscience irrespective of the consequences which might overtake them for it”.
This is the standard to which we are today called upon take the baton in the fight against unemployment, poverty and corruption which today are pervasive in our society.
Today, as we make laws, we must be men and women of public morality which Mandela spoke about in 1954.
We must be men and women of purpose which became the defining essence of the Mandela generation.
Irrespective of consequence to our own personal beings, we must refuse to be swayed away from the public consciousness.
Today, party political loyalty makes us blind to the injustices that our people face every day.
Because we owe allegiance to party bosses, we do not speak when millions meant to better our people go missing.
We allow demagogues to rise to the political platform because men and women of public morality have been cowed into silence.
Not just silence, but into cowardice.
Dalibunga refused to be silenced.
Because history was on his side, he turned out triumphantly in the end.
Again faced with the death penalty, in the Rivonia trial, Dlomo never let go of his public morality.
Today, we are not facing any death penalty nor threats to have our names cut off from our professions.
Yet we choose silence when our learners cannot get textbooks on time.
The character of our modern day political culture is sycophancy.
The DA, against all the caricatures levelled against it, refuses to be part of this political culture.
Because the livelihood of our people is at stake, we will uphold the public morality which Mandela spoke about.
We will speak truth to power.
History will always be on the side of those who stand up for the down trodden, for those in the margins, and for the vulnerable among us.
Today, we have a rich history to emulate, Mandela is its scribe.
As we do this we must be men and women of conscience which Mandela aptly described.