Politicians can learn from Mandela's legacy

By Harriet Ernstsons Tuesday 10 December 2013 Updated: 11/12 11:29

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Buy photos » Mayor Wanda King signs the book of condolence in memory of Nelson Mandela. Picture by Marcus Mingins 5013007MMR

POLITICIANS in Redditch can learn from Nelson Mandela's legacy when fighting their next election.

That was the message from Coun Andy Fry as councillors paid tribute to the former South African president who passed away last week aged 95.

Coun Fry, who was a member of the Anti-Apartheid Movement which campaigned for equal rights and the release of Mandela from prison, said at a meeting of Redditch Borough Council on Monday (December 9) the next election would probably be 'dominated by division' which was 'not Mandela's way'.

"Looking for links to unite people even though they had major differences was Mandela's way and that should be the way forward for Redditch to unite our multicultural town with multi-racial people in it.

"We need to follow Mandela's legacy. Politics of division are cheap and they are not the way forward for Redditch.

"We as a council can learn a lot. We should show that type of example for the people we put ourselves forward to represent."

Coun Carole Gandy, who visited Robben Island where Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, added: "Having spent all those years in prison he came out not seeking any form of retribution because he knew to do so would destroy South Africa.

"He made a decision to put aside what might be his personal feelings for the good of the country he loved so much. Most politicians do not do that, many politicians do what they believe will benefit themselves electorally. Few politicians are brave enough to put that aside and do what is purely best for the country, town or city they represent. But that was something he managed to do."

Residents are able to leave their tributes in a special book of condolences on weekdays from 9am to 5pm and Saturdays from 9am to 12pm until the end of January. It will then be sent on to the South African Commission in London.

As a mark of respect, the Town Hall's flag was flown at half mast on Friday while councillors held a minute's silence during their meeting.

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