Nelson Mandela too good for government leadership

Nelson Mandela was too good for his or South Africa’s own good, writes international affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe. Excerpt:

Nelson Mandela speaks to reporters, including Jonathan Manthorpe (top), in the garden of his old house in Soweto two days after his release from Victor Verster prison on Feb. 11, 1990.

Those qualities of tolerance, forgiveness, respect for the others’ views, and uncritical loyalty to friends, comrades and family that made him one of the most saintly public figures of the last century, also framed his less than stellar performance as a government leader.

Mandela has bequeathed an almost unique culture of reconciliation that diverted South Africa from the real prospect in the early and mid-1990s of a blood bath either between whites and blacks, or between rival black ethnic groups or both.

But his humanitarian qualities also caused him to fail to exert the kind of leadership and sense of purpose in government to address the myriad of social problems borne of apartheid and that still, 20 years later, blight the lives of the vast majority of South Africa’s 52 million people …. read Manthorpe’s column here.*

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