#MandelaLecture: Obama condemns strongman politics & attacks on democracy

Former US president Barack Obama noted that democracy should be about more than just elections and who gets the most votes.

Former US President Barack Obama speaks at the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture at the Wanderers Cricket Stadium on 17 July 2018. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Former US President Barack Obama used the Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture to condemn strongman politics and attacks on democracy and to call for honesty and decency.

Obama delivered a rousing address in honour of former President Nelson Mandela at the Wanderers Stadium which was attended by thousands of guests.

Obama was met with thunderous applause when he said real democracy means government exists to serve the people.

“Democracy depends on strong institutions and it’s about minority rights, checks and balances, freedom of speech, freedom of express and a free press.”

He referred to the legacy of the South African struggle icon Mandela as he spoke about the need for change in the world.

“Madiba’s popularity… he could’ve been president for life. Am I wrong?”

The former US president noted that democracy should be about more than just elections and who gets the most votes.

Obama lashed out at strongman politics which he says is on the rise.

WATCH: Barack Obama's Nelson Mandela lecture

Just one day after his successor Donald Trump was heavily criticised for a humiliating news conference with Vladimir Putin, Obama criticised populist movements toward authoritarianism around the world and he ridiculed the "utter loss of shame among political leaders" who lie.

“Given the strange and uncertain times that we’re in, with each day’s news cycles bringing head-spinning and disturbing headlines, I thought maybe it would be useful to step back for a moment and get some perspective.”

Obama has made an art of criticising the current US president's values without explicitly naming Trump, peppering his speech on Tuesday afternoon with warnings against some of Trump's key policies, including protectionism, climate change denial and closed borders.

Additional reporting by Eyewitness News.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)