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‘We will take Mandela’s legacy forward’ – Zuma

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Story Dated: Sunday, December 15, 2013 11:48 hrs UTC

Zuma said Mandela had made tremendous strides in gender equality, giving it prominence and seriousness under his presidency.

“[This led] to an increase in the number of women in public office, especially Parliament and Cabinet,” Zuma said.

“We dare not reverse your achievements in this regard.

“As your journey ends today, ours must continue in earnest. One thing we can assure you of today Tata is, as you take your final steps, is that South Africa will continue to rise.”

Mandela’s abiding revolutionary spirit would prevail on the country not to rest until the poor and working class had truly benefited from the material fruits of freedom and democracy for which he had fought.

“Therefore, today we undertake to take forward the [promise] of an improved quality of life for all,” the president said.

“We commit to work more intensely to deal a decisive blow against persisting poverty, unemployment, and inequality.

“We pledge to take your vision forward for good schools, hospitals, quality housing, utilities, decent jobs and working conditions as well as efficient and accountable public service.”

Learning from Mandela, education would continue to be used as a weapon to improve the quality of life and bring about change through investing in the development of children and the youth.

“You love children dearly,” Zuma said.

‘Thanks for sharing Mandela’

Zuma thanked Mandela’s family on Sunday for sharing him with South Africa and the world.

“We acknowledge the suffering of your own children who had an absent father and a father who was called a dangerous man and a terrorist by the apartheid regime,” Zuma said at Mandela’s state funeral in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape.

“They are no doubt truly proud today to be brought to this planet by a man so great and yet so humble.”

Zuma thanked Mandela’s first wife Evelyn Mase, who died in 2004, for raising Mandela’s children under difficult conditions.

The biggest praise went to Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

The crowd at the funeral applauded when Zuma acknowledged Madikizela-Mandela as the person who had kept Mandela’s name alive and provided support and strength.

“When the ANC was banned, she refused to be silent and carried on the struggle with amazing bravery,” he said.

“She was persecuted severely for standing by you [Mandela] and for remaining resolute.

“We are proud of the contribution that she has made to the struggle for the liberation of the country as an activist and leader in her own name and right.”

Zuma also thanked Mandela’s widow Graca Machel.

“We thank your dear wife Mama Graca Machel, who has been at your side providing love.

“The last year has not been easy for her during your ill health. She made sure you were cared for and comforted in your final moments,” said Zuma.

Mandela died at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on December 5. He was 95.

A memorial service was held at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

His body was flown to the Eastern Cape on Saturday.

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