Mandela's death not affects S. African future political developments: experts

# 08 December 2013 01:02 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. The death of former president Nelson Mandela "will not pose" an impact on South African future political direction and developments, analysts said on Saturday, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

In an interview with Xinhua, University of South Africa (UNISA) Political Sciences Professor, Dirk Kotze said Mandela was not "actively involved" in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and national politics since his retirement in 1999.

In addition, Mandela had "laid a strong foundation" for the country during his time as president, Kotze said.

Mandela, South Africa's first black president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, died of a long-standing lung problem on Thursday at the age of 95.

"During the last number of years Mandela played a very limited role both in the party politics and national situations. The political situation has developed without his direct involvement and therefore his absence will not have a major impact on the direction of political developments," Kotze said.

"His presence as an elder statesman was appreciated by all, but it had more of a symbolic value than any direct impact on the direction of events," he added.

Oren Dayan, top local economist and former lecturer at School of Economic and Business Sciences at Wits University, said Mandela is one of African struggle leaders who was "clever enough to prepare" the country's future leaders.

"Mandela knew he could not be the father of the nation forever and groomed other leaders to take over and lead the country. He did this in order to make sure that his vision for South Africa is fulfilled during and outside his life time," Dayan told Xinhua.

Kotze, who was actively involved in South African constitutional transition in the 1990s, said that by the time of Mandela's death, few of his policies were still pursued in their original form.

The constitution drafting expert said Mandela's macro-economic policy of Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP) and later Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) were superseded by the notion of the "developmental state" and the longer-term National Development Plan.

"His policy of reconciliation and nation-building is not pursued as such but a less focused notion of 'social cohesion' is now at a rhetorical level promoted."

The land reform policy still resembles the Mandela-era policy, except for the latest proposed amendments. The Mandela foreign policy was premised on the promotion of the values of human rights and democracy while the current policy is presented also as a value- and principles-based policy but it is much more pragmatic and interest-based than the Mandela policy, Kotze added.

Kotze, also a prominent conflict resolution expert, said Mandela's passing will unite the "ANC at the time of its occurrence but it will not have a lasting effect."

Kotze said Mandela is loved by all South Africans regardless of races because the role he played as president was not focused on himself but for the national interest.

"He did not create the idea that he was interested in power and hence he stepped down after only one presidential term. He did not enrich himself during his term but encouraged others to assist development in South Africa, he encouraged businesses to support social development," Kotze noted.

Emerging from prison, Mandala was elected South African head of state and head of government following the first democratic election in 1994. He led transition from the system of apartheid to one of majority rule. He ruled from 1994 to 1999.

After one term Thabo Mbeki took over the presidency leading from 1999 to September of 2008 when he resigned. His deputy Kgalema Motlanthe took over as "caretaker" president until the election in 2009, in which Jacob Zuma was elected as the current president.

All the three presidents were under Mandela's tutelage since the struggle era. When they took over, they continued with the Mandela legacy, advocating for national unity and fighting poverty in the country through advancement of economic and education opportunities.

"South Africa now is a nation that can do without the presence of the Mandela," Dayan said. "The country has developed tremendously since 1994 and will simply keep his vision and improving across sectors," he added.

Dayan said Mandela set the foundation of running South Africa in and out of his presence. "The South African government has a very detailed plan forward and I think that Mandela had nothing to do with setting these current goals," he added.

Kotze said Mandela also created confidence in the new South Africa by not only resisting against the apartheid supporters but also promoting truly social transformation.