Representatives of several political parties came together on Friday to debate the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

Representatives of several political parties came together on Friday to debate the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

“Don’t blame Mandela because black people are lazy”.  The president of the Wits Debating Union (WDU), Jamie Mighti, said he was willing to be unpopular and tell fellow black students this “inconvenient truth”.

Mighti was speaking at a debate held by the WDU about former president Nelson Mandela’s legacy focused on whether Mandela sold black people out in the name of peace and reconciliation.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) representatives Hon M A Mncwango and  Bonginkosi Dhlamini, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Makashule Gana and Andile Mngxitama of the Economic Freedom Fighters or EFF also formed part of the debating panel.

[pullquote align=”right”]”Mandela cut deals with white people at the expense of black people.”[/pullquote]

The IFP, DA and WDU all argued that Mandela did not sell black people out but rather “chose peace over justice” so the country could move forward.

This is in light of Mandela’s decision to protect the private property rights of the wealthy, who were still mainly white.

Mandela was also criticised for his decision to keep South Africa a capitalist state.

Public figures such as his former wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, have publicly called him a “sell out” for choosing to have black and white people live and work together on what they have called the “stolen” land of black Africans.

Gana of the DA said it was important to consider history and context when looking at what Mandela did for South Africa: “Many other African states were collapsing and skilled people were leaving these countries with no skills transfer … He was driven by that fact and the Freedom Charter, which stated that South Africa belongs to all who live in it.”

Mngxitama was the only panelist who disagreed with the stateman’s approach to building a new South Africa: “Mandela cut deals with white people at the expense of black people. That is his unique contribution, that’s his legacy.”

The activist-turned-politician was met with a room full of applause and cheers when he said the EFF planned to “take the land and he economy back.”

He also said that under their (EFF) rule, all members of parliament would be forced to use public hospitals and take their children to public schools – “then they’ll be sure to make Baragwanath a quality hospital”, he said, to which the crowd responded with more applause and screaming.

[pullquote]”Don’t try party like a white kid. He’s going to leave you behind because he’s 12 years ahead of you.”[/pullquote]

Mighti said he was alarmed by the approach of “the Andiles and Malemas of this world”. He urged fellow students to forgive and forget about the apartheid regime and focus on being better students to ensure a more promising future. “What Andile says makes for good slogans, but it doesn’t make for a good supper”.

He said more black students needed to be in the library and “not at Puma [Social Club].

Don’t try party like a white kid. He’s going to leave you behind because he’s 12 years ahead of you. He had a good education, you have catching up to do.”

A student, who chose not to be named,  shouted at Mighti: “You insult us as blacks and yet you are black. This is what the system wanted.” He argued that the 24 hour libraries on main campus are used by black students, objecting to his claim that black students don’t put in as much work as their white mates.

He said white students were able to do better because they had resources like Apple iPads, computers with internet access and cars, which made their learning simpler.

Mighti ended his address by saying to black students “look in the mirror and ask yourself why you are not the top student in your class. There’s too much ‘instagraming’ and ‘facebooking’ going on”.

The debate ended without final remarks from Mngxitama as he was “summoned” to Soweto to join the EFF’s National Assembly.

The debate, which was held at FNB 101 last night, was aimed at addressing what the WDU has called “ongoing conversations” among young people.

Another debate will be held next week Friday as part of the WDU’s “Responsible Reconcilliation” Series. Next week’s topic is Socio-Economic Integration.