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Would today's leaders make the same sacrifices as the Rivonia trialists? - Motlanthe

Former President Kgalema Motlanthe has questioned whether leaders are capable of making sacrifices.
Former President Kgalema Motlanthe has questioned whether leaders are capable of making sacrifices.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

 Would people in leadership positions be willing to sacrifice their lavish lives for the good of the people?

This was a question posed by former president Kgalema Motlanthe who delivered a keynote address at the 56th anniversary of the Rivonia treason trial at Liliesleaf in Sandton on Thursday.

Motlanthe said that the Rivonia trialists, who were arrested while plotting a struggle to fight against  the injustices of apartheid, made sacrifices which ultimately led to the freedom enjoyed by many today. These leaders included former president Nelson Mandela, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada and others.

“We must ask ourselves whether we do indeed live and conduct ourselves consistent with the ethos and values that defined the Rivonia trialists and their peers,”  he said.

Motlanthe said that during the trial, these leaders had decided that they would not appeal the court’s decision if it led to imprisonment as they wanted to send out a political statement.

“These leaders were prepared to face the ultimate sacrifice for the greater benefit of the struggle,” he said.

Motlanthe called on leaders to ask themselves whether they would ever make such sacrifices, not for personal gain but for the people.

“What is it we are prepared to do, not for selfish benefits but for the common good? In reality, all these questions are directed at whether we are indeed true revolutionaries; whether the salutary words ‘cadres’ and ‘comrades’ have some true meaning or are merely some hollow concepts that are devoid of meaning,” said Motlanthe.

“If we are called leaders, what are the things that we are doing to signify that we are the legitimate heirs to the legacy established by these selfless freedom fighters?”

He said that the 56th anniversary of the trial must be used by South Africans to call for ethical and responsible leaders.

“The ANC and alliance leaders, at all levels, must be prepared to take extraordinary steps for the betterment of our people; do work not for personal gain but for the improvement of our localities, communities and society as a whole,” he said.

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