TOKOZA, SOUTH AFRICA: South African National Congress President Nelson Mandela addresses 05 September 1990 in Tokoza a crowd of residents from the Phola park squatter camp during his tour of townships. (Photo credit should read TREVOR SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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Nelson Mandela Day: South African Columnist, Preez Urge Citizens Not To Allow Zuma Define Who They Are

While South Africans engage in numerous events and initiatives to mark the Nelson Mandela Day, Max du Preez, a South African author and columnist urge citizens not to allow themselves to be defined by the problems caused by the Zuma era.

In a piece published on News24, the writer said though the nation is now paralysed by gross depression and pessimism, South Africans need not allow themselves to allow themselves to be submerged into the problems.

Optimism, like pessimism, is infectious and can have a meaningful impact on national politics and the economy, he said admitting the fact that the nation’s economy is now at the stage where investors now too nervous to invest.

He encouraged citizens to develop a new spirit of enthusiasm and optimism so that the economic growth can be stimulated and jobs created.

Perhaps we should, like Bhutan, the United Arab Emirates and India have done, appoint a Ministry of Happiness to look after the psyche of the nation. And while we’re at it, a Ministry of Tolerance, he noted,

“If you only focus on the Zuma government, the incapable civil service, corruption, state capture and populist rhetoric, you will get seriously depressed.

“But in my memory the national political leadership of South Africa has only once been in harmony with the attitudes and demeanour of the citizenry.

It was not the case with the apartheid governments of John Vorster, PW Botha or FW de Klerk, nor was it the case with Thabo Mbeki or Jacob Zuma. The brief Prague Spring under Nelson Mandela between 1994 and 1999 was the closest we got to it.

If you open your mind and your eyes, you will realise that there is still a lot more of Mandela in most of us South Africans than of Zuma.

But, I’m often asked, what can we with no influence on the ANC inner circle do? Where do we find inspiration to feel good about our future again?

To stand above depression caused by the state of the country, Max Du Preez said South Africans while marking the Nelson Mandela Day, must start with their own life:

– Consolidate, reboot, refresh, get your own house in order

– Make yourself doom and gloom-proof.

– Renew your relationships with your life partner, your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours.

– Look after your health, abandon bad habits, become more active, rediscover nature, spend more money on breakaway weekends and holidays than on earthly belongings.

– Live in tolerance, sharing and love.

– Make your world bigger rather than hiding in a claustrophobic larger, explore a bit more.

– Be a good citizen.

If you are healthy, happy and secure in your own life and your environment, the problems we face in the country suddenly look a lot smaller and less depressing and you will have much more energy, he said.

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“Instead of wallowing in the muck with Jacob Zuma and the Guptas, we should remember what we were like when we were at our best: the 1994 elections, the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the 2010 Soccer World Cup, Mandela’s funeral in 2013.

“We’re experiencing another moment right now where there is the potential for citizens to focus more on what they have in common than on what divides them: the national revulsion in state corruption, state capture and the power of the Gupta family over those in power”

Du Preez’ encouraging words come at the time the atmosphere seem tensed following the Zuma-Gupta problems, high political killings, economic recession and mass unemployments.

Save SA and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation have also staged a conference entitled Future of South Africa where issues affecting the growth of the South African nation would be discussed as citizens mark the Nelson Mandela day.

The conference which will start on Tuesday, July 18, will see delegates across the nation coming together to discuss a way forward and to devise active moves that will hasten the fight for Zuma’s removal.

In 2009, the United Nations general assembly declared 18 July as Nelson Mandela Day in recognition of the former South African president’s contribution to peace and freedom. And to mark this, citizens are urged to give back to their communities as the past leader did.

But while South Africans continue to remember the sacrificial activities of Nelson Mandela, Du Preez urge the citizens not to feel angry and ashamed and demand their national pride and self-respect back. Instead, they should use the crisis productively and increase civil activism.

“The ANC is in a total mess and will probably be paralysed until at least 2019. But, there is more to us South Africans than Luthuli House, the present government and Jacob Zuma.

“They don’t define us, just as Donald Trump doesn’t define the American nation, and we should not allow them to stop us dreaming of a brighter future for all South Africans, of imagining a new society.

“Not only dreaming, but dreaming big, and more than dreaming, actually doing, so they would follow us rather than us following them.

“South Africa can still become a winning, just nation, despite the politicians. We have it in us. ” Max du Preez stated.

As South Africans mark the Nelson Mandela Day, writer and columnists Max Du Preez urge South Africans not to be weighed down by the Zuma-Gupta problems

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