Naidoo: SA desperately needs a unifier

Activist Jay Naidoo says South Africa needs someone to follow in Nelson Mandela’s footsteps.

Struggle activist Jay Naidoo. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - Activist Jay Naidoo says following the death of Nelson Mandela, the country desperately needs a unifier.

Mandela passed away peacefully at his Houghton home in Johannesburg on Thursday night.

The 95-year-old spent three months in hospital earlier this year due to a recurring lung infection.

As the world and South Africa celebrate Madiba's life, many people have shared their fond memories of the man.

Naidoo, who was a minister in Madiba's cabinet, says Madiba steered the country away from civil war.

"I think there's a sense that as a reconciler he sold us out. The world expected a racial civil war in this country and under his leadership he was able to pull us back. I think that must never be forgotten in the minds of South Africans."

Naidoo says the country needs a unifier.

"A good heart and a good head make an excellent leader and that's what he did. He was an excellent leader for all South Africans black and white. He was not a saint. He was a human being but an extraordinary human being and he kept stressing that. We have so much of political arrogance today in the country and what we desperately need is a unifier."

Naidoo says Mandela listened to those around him.

"He was robust, I could disagree with him. He never sort of behaved like a president who knew everything; the big leader that we have so much of today. And the other thing is that he had a sense of empathy."

The former statesman will be laid to rest at Qunu on 15 December.

Several heads of states including US President Barack Obama is expected to attend the funeral.

President Jacob Zuma has declared Sunday a day of prayer and introspection.