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Socialist International honours the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | press release author Friday December 20, 2013 06:02author by Socialist International (SI) Report this post to the editors

The Socialist International is deeply moved by the passing of Nelson Mandela, the man who, representing the struggle for freedom of an entire nation, became a symbol for justice, reconciliation and peace for the entire world.

1993 Lisbon, Portugal
1993 Lisbon, Portugal

Nelson Mandela’s life touched countless people across the globe. His determination to put an end to racism and apartheid and his humanity in dealing with the horrors of the past and in creating the basis for a common future for all in South Africa set the stage for a new global society for the twenty first century - the only one possible, of inclusion, tolerance, respect, peace, democracy, freedoms and rights. That is his foremost legacy, and today our entire movement pays respect to a unique man, a man in whom our vision of a better world, a society of opportunities for all and of real solidarity between people and nations, found its best exponent.

Mandela was born to the Thembu people of the Eastern Cape of South Africa in 1918. Throughout his life many fondly referred to him by his Thembu clan name, Madiba. In 1943 Mandela joined Witwatersrand University to study law, then a predominately white institution where he came up against racism. Becoming active in the ANC and co-founding the ANC Youth League, Mandela rose in the movement against racial discrimination and against the apartheid policy implemented in 1948 by South Africa’s white minority government, under the leadership of the National Party. He led crucial rallies and demonstrations with the ANC and after their Defiance Campaign in the early 1950s the United Nations formally incorporated apartheid among the issues to be tackled by the organisation. Mandela became central to the work of the African National Congress, strengthening the party’s underground networks to ensure it withstood the government ban imposed on it in 1960. He was charged several times during the movement’s protests and in 1964 he was sentenced to life imprisonment for high treason.

Throughout Mandela’s incarcerated years, the Socialist International and its member parties were actively engaged against apartheid, drawing international attention to the campaign for the release of Mandela and the other political prisoners, and in support of the African National Congress.

Mandela was extraordinarily selfless in his commitment to put an end to apartheid, turning down offers of conditional release by the South African government that involved the abandonment of his political work. His convictions and strength were such that he endured 27 years of prison until he was released unconditionally in 1990 under South African President FW de Klerk who legalised all the political parties that had been banned. In 1993, Mandela’s role was acknowledged when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with de Klerk, for the ‘peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa’.

After his release, Nelson Mandela participated in various activities of the Socialist International during the early 1990s, including the SI Council meeting held in Lisbon, Portugal, on 5-6 October 1993, and the SI Council organised with the ANC in Cape Town, South Africa, on 10-11 July, 1995.

In his memorable speech at the SI Council in Lisbon, Mandela called for an official SI observation mission to South Africa to ensure that the 1994 elections, the country’s first in which his party would run, would be ‘free and fair’. Highlighting the historical significance of the vote, he said ‘Some 19 million people who will make up 91 per cent of the electorate will be voting for the very first time’ and that the elections would finally achieve for South Africa a government democratically chosen by the people. The International was proud to carry out this mission, and celebrated Mandela’s overwhelming victory in these elections, becoming not only the country’s first black president after over three centuries of white rule but the country’s first president to be democratically elected.

Mandela’s domestic achievements as President and his commitment to national reconciliation and to ensuring that the new democracy reflected respect and equality for all people, regardless of race or colour, was an example to the world. The new South African Constitution was agreed by parliament in May 1996. In his efforts to achieve a strong and resilient democracy, Nelson Mandela also paid particular attention to foreign policy, focusing on contributing to more fair international relations and greater dynamism for the South African economy.

Mandela was warmly welcomed at the SI Council meeting in Cape Town, its first ever meeting in South Africa, and his speech received a standing ovation: ‘We in South Africa have been very fortunate in that our struggle, and as difficult as it was, enjoyed the support of democrats throughout the world… In prison, those thick walls could not prevent the ideas which challenged the cruel system of racial oppression under which we were living. And the Socialist International was in the forefront of that struggle.’

After retiring as President, Mandela continued to promote and cultivate democracy and freedoms in Africa and for nations and people across the world. He voiced his opinion in international politics, raised awareness of HIV/AIDS, and launched the Mandela Foundation in 1999 and The Elders group in 2007.

The International has been inspired by Mandela’s life, and has been honoured to work with him on a journey that has given so much hope to other democratic struggles in the world. His dignity, character and indomitable spirit will never be forgotten.

We stand today with his family, his people and his comrades of the African National Congress, ANC, who hosted our global movement last year for the XXIV SI Congress, in mourning the loss and celebrating the life of Madiba, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.


Mandela has served as a symbol of strength and hope for South Africa and the world. As one of the leaders of the African National Congress (ANC), Mandela was at the forefront of the movement for national liberation for the black majority in South Africa. He was eventually detained by the apartheid regime for his participation in the national liberation movement and was imprisoned for 27 years. Despite such hardship, his dream of freedom for his people never ceased.

After his release, he became instrumental in ending apartheid or the state policy of racial segregation and discrimination. Mandela was subsequently elected as the country’s first black South African President elected in its first openly democratic and free elections.

As President, he oversaw the transformation of the once white-dominated country into a more pluralistic and democratic society it is today. He also started the process of healing and reconciliation through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to find a way to end decades of bitterness and enmity wrought by the oppressive policies of the apartheid by providing justice to all those who seek it and just closure to a dark past.

With deep sorrow, Akbayan (Citizens Action Party) joins its sister party, the African National Congress (ANC)--a fellow member of the Socialist International, the South African people and the world in mourning the passing of a great human being. Madiba, as he is fondly called, will forever be an inspiration to our own struggle for social transformation. His life, struggle and sacrifices to pursue freedom and equality for all will always be remembered and serve as shining beacons as we continue the struggle for a better future.

Akbayan - Philippines

1995 Cape Town, South Africa
1995 Cape Town, South Africa

Socialist International
Socialist International

author by fredpublication date Sat Dec 21, 2013 02:39Report this post to the editors

Yeah Nelson was great.
Not really a terrorist at all.

Unlike our own Gerry Adams and others who were evil terrorists.

But the plain clothes british army who went about randomly killing citizens, as recently revealed by the BBC documentary,
well they were just doing their duty to protect freedom and democracy and deserve a medal.

The blatant hypocrisy of world media and especially our own
on the matter of Mandela and terrorism really makes me sick.

author by NNpublication date Mon Dec 23, 2013 11:13Report this post to the editors

Take a look at the map that represents countries governed by socialist international parties? Ireland? The Netherlands? Mali? Liberia?

Seems like it is not so much socialist but social democrats. Also note the that Venezuela, Vietnam and China are not colored.

author by Etymologypublication date Mon Dec 23, 2013 13:43Report this post to the editors

There are 157 varieties of meaning attached to socialism nowadays, so describing some of the countries ruled by Socialist International parties on that map is all a matter of definition. We in Ireland can remember that taoiseach Bertie Ahern once described himself as a socialist, and FF is definitely not linked to the Socialist International. Apparently the Irish Labour Party is. Time for Christmas jokes. "God rest you merry socialists, let nothing you despair..." Sing along and share the good cheer.

author by voted for War Bonds - The Social Engineering Partypublication date Sat Jan 04, 2014 20:20Report this post to the editors

I can't help laughing.

With the greatest of respect Original Poster but you need to deepen your understanding of politics.

Let me guess, you're in Labour Youth


Social Democracy as a political philosophy has no credibility given the Credit Crunch. (It was lost well before that but we'll only go back as far as that.)

The attempts to put manners on the market has clearly failed. Capitalism has failed as an economic system (yet again) and self-identified Social Democrat parties have no answer.

They are not even "Gas and Water Socialists" anymore, they are implementing Neo-Liberalism, Corporate Welfare and Austerity. As such they are indistinguishable from right-wing parties.

For cheer-leaders of the Socialist International Mandela is a safe bet to celebrate, and hopefully some of the credibility will rub on onto yourselves. Jesus, ye's must think people are stupid.

Unfortunately many people who get involved in Parliamentary Socialism are doing so because they have concluded there is massive emotional power in the Socialist dream. Ejits can be excited and absorbed into a big political machine.

The likes of Wriggling Rabbit and Groveling Gilmore were never Socialists. They are only interesting in Social Engineering.

I assume the concept of goodwill attracted you to Labour. (Either that or you are Social Engineer-wannabe / careerist / carpet-bagger). I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Channel your mental energy into something that will genuinely make a difference. Volunteer for An Siol (teaching economically poor kids), deliver soup to homeless, the list is endless.

I'll end with a quote from Kristos Pallis aka Maurice Brinton
"meaningful action is whatever increases the confidence, autonomy, initiative, participation, solidarity, egalitarian tendencies and self-activity of the masses, and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, cynicism, differentiation through hierarchy, alienation, reliance on others to do things for them, and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others, even those acting on their behalf."

author by F4Vpublication date Mon Jan 06, 2014 03:24Report this post to the editors

Between Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe, I will choose Mandela.

Between Socialist International and Communist International, I will choose the former. Communism did bring the oppressive and murderous regimes of Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Enver Hoxha, Nicolai Ceausescu, Pol Pot, Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong Un and others.

author by fredpublication date Mon Jan 06, 2014 13:48Report this post to the editors

Between George W Bush and Barrack Obama, I will I choose??

1 million dead in middle east wars, Tuesday meetings to decide on a shortlist of extrajudicial drone murders, crippling economic sanctions that killed 500,000 kids in Iraq (but which was "worth it" according to Madeline Albright). Afghanistan gone from producing 0% of the worlds heroin to 85%+ currently.

Military bases in hundreds of countries, the highest per capita prison population in the world, death penalty alive and well in several states including Texas. A financial system that is out of control and destroying the economies of the world to serve their own unbridled selfishness and greed, per capita 25 times the energy use and greenhouse gas production of a person in Africa, pollution capital of the world, etc etc.

Thats what so called "social democracy" brings. An Orwellian phrase if ever there was one
As for the "democracy" bit, well you get to vote for republicans or democrats once every 4 years, but the both work for the same corporations, military industrial complex and financial terrorists on wall street. And if you protest then you get treated like occupy wall street did. With pepper spray, arrest, brutality and legal harassment and surveillance.

The "social" bit is a joke too. No jobs, no welfare after 24 months, no housing. Medicare is resisted at every turn. It's just every rat for himself really. Backed by a huge military, NSA surveillance of everyone, and a police force dressed like (and acting like) stormtroopers.

I for one welcome our US "social democratic" overlords ( so please don't kill me with a drone )

author by o'brienpublication date Tue Jan 07, 2014 13:05Report this post to the editors

Barrack Obama is not a socialist nor a social-democrat. The US Democratic Party is not a member of the SI.

You are parroting the US neo-conservatives by saying Obama is a socialist. Either you are fooling the readers or misguided yourself.

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