11 Feb 2018 - 20:01
South Africa marks 28 years of Mandela’s prison release
By Hassan Isilow / AFP
JOHANNESBURG: South Africans on Sunday celebrated 28 years since late President Nelson Mandela was released from prison after serving 27 years for opposing white-minority rule.
"We will continue with the legacy of Mandela to fight corruption,” ruling African National Congress (ANC) President Cyril Ramaphosa told a huge crowd at the Grand Parade where Mandela made his first speech after he was released in 1990.
Ramaphosa, 65, was elected ANC president in December 2017 and is now most likely to become the country’s next president.
"Nelson Mandela’s objective in whatever he did was to see people of South Africa united. Let the spirit of Mandela lift us all and make South Africa the country of our dreams,” he said.
Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years for opposing the former apartheid government. He was freed from Robben Island prisons in 1990 before being elected the country’s first black president in 1994.
Mandela, who died in December 2013 at the age of 95, preached reconciliation and forgiveness among South Africans of different races.
He led his country with respect and integrity before retiring after one term in office. He was revered across the world for his exemplary leadership.
However, the ruling ANC under President Jacob Zuma has faced massive criticism over alleged incidents of corruption and misrule.
Zuma, 75, faces 783 criminal charges, including corruption, racketeering and fraud, linked to a 1999 multibillion-dollar government arms deal.
Ramaphosa and his new ANC team have pledged to end corruption, misrule and cronyism within the government.
For the past week, Ramaphosa has been bargaining with Zuma to resign from office as his continued stay as head of state would allegedly affect the party brand and could cost them votes in the 2019 general election.
Ramaphosa said the ANC’s top executives will meet Monday to finalize discussions on Zuma’s resignation.