Statement by Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, during the Nelson Mandela Day Outreach Programme and Virtual Celebration, 17 July 2020

Statement by Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, during the Nelson Mandela Day Outreach Programme and Virtual Celebration, 17 July 2020


Programme Director,


South African Ambassador to South Korea, Princess Zenani Mandela-Dlamini,


CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Mr Sello Hatang,


Distinguished Guests,


Ladies and Gentlemen,


It is my singular honour to participate in this year’s Nelson Mandela Day outreach programme in commemoration of President Mandela’s towering legacy. All me to begin, most regrettably, by expressing my deepest condolences to the Mandela family on the loss of their daughter and sister so tragically sad moment.


We mourn the passing of Ambassador Zindziswa Mandela-Hlongwane.


It is all the more painful that her passing happened just five days before the world celebrates the legacy of her great father, our national and world icon, President Nelson Mandela.

In her own right, Ambassador Mandela-Hlongwane served South Africa with distinction, both as a young anti-apartheid activist and as an ambassador of our democratic South Africa. We will miss her energy, candour and commitment to the ideals that define our constitutional democracy.


We mark International Nelson Mandela, at a time and a day when the globe is confronted by the devastating crisis of the COVID-19 global pandemic which is creating untold economic, social and psychological destruction in its wake.


Its sheer scale of rack and ruin is all too overwhelming for any one country to manage on its own. It is in this spirit that we have themed this Nelson Mandela Day “A New Social Contract between Nations: Reducing Inequality at a Global Level”.


As this pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the world, it has begun to transform global consciousness by forcing large sections of the international community to re-think traditional approaches to fighting poverty, global inequality and underdevelopment. Its debilitating effects are drawing the world’s attention, much more closely, to the vision of President Mandela that ‘we can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your and our hands to make a difference’.


It is indeed in the hands of the international community to make a difference by building meaningful and lasting partnerships for a developmental agenda that will enable the world to stand as one against global pandemics, poverty, inequality and injustice.


We believe, as Dirco, that the outbreak of this pandemic has forced onto the global agenda the imperative of re-imagining a new social contract between nations to reduce inequality and poverty at a global level.


Failure or inadequacy to withstand the effects of this pandemic by countries in both the Global North and the Global South underscores the reality of global and national inequality as well as the need to re-evaluate current global social, economic and health structures which have been rendered very weak by the unrelenting waves of the pandemic. In this spirit of President Mandela, partnerships within a multilateral framework are our best foot forward.


While both the developed and the developing worlds have suffered the COVID-19’s dreadful effects, the developing world has unequally borne the brunt due to its fragile economies, weak institutions and in particular, inadequate public health systems.


With the pandemic’s destruction of this already brittle global socio-economic landscape, this moment of re-imagining President Mandela should re-embolden us to create a new vision, based on a moral and ethical foundation of our current international system.


As we celebrate the legacy of President Nelson Mandela, the world needs to take seriously the core principles which define his vision. President Nelson Mandela would expect that we look to a human vision, one revolves around the good of all as we determine responses to the pandemic.


President Mandela’s legacy echoes these noble visions which he so distinctly embodied. As part of this embodiment of the President Mandela’s core legacy are principles such as equality for all, both within and between nations, upholding social justice, promotion of social equity and the utilisation of solidarity as a momentum intended to eliminate communicable diseases, poverty and the want so many experience. All of these as pre-conditions for a sustainable world conducive to human dignity.


COVID-19 has shown us that while its impact is indiscriminate, resilience to withstand and mitigate its dire consequences, hinge on developed public health systems, robust economic institutions as well as the state of social development which empowers citizens.


Happily, we have seen human responses to emerging needs.


As the Department of International Relations and Cooperation wishes to thank all the Diplomatic Missions accredited to South Africa who have responded to the call for donations of personal protective equipment, hand sanitizers, hand washing soap, gloves, cloth masks, thermometers and food parcels to a school throughout our Country as well as to the SADC region.


In keeping with President Mandela’s vision for international solidarity, these interventions will go a long way towards saving human lives and contributing to a better world.


Thank you for that. Let all of us make each day a Mandela day as we combat this menace to our lives and our people. We should work towards the elimination of both national and global inequality, for the creation of a just global order as well as a humane world whose values Nelson Mandela radiated during his lifetime.


I thank you.




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