Mandela's dream of economically free SA still eludes us
The Times Editorial: When asked who they believed was the greatest leader of all time, the overwhelming majority of young South Africans - 71.6% - voted for Nelson Mandela.
US President Barack Obama was a distant second, cracking the nod from 7% of respondents, followed by Martin Luther King Jr with 6.7% and Mahatma Gandhi (3.8%).
Every country has its heroes and the survey, by Pondering Panda, certainly cannot claim to be definitive - its national and youth bias militate against that - but such is Madiba's stature that it is hard to believe that a global study would come to a radically different conclusion.
The man who to this day is visited by kings, presidents, statesmen and ordinary folk, is held in such high esteem worldwide that politicians - even those at the height of their popularity - can only dream of enjoying the approval ratings that Madiba continues to command.
It is impossible to imagine the free, democratic country that we enjoy today without Mandela. He remains the touchstone not only for how leaders should conduct themselves but also for how they should run their countries.
While Madiba has proved an impossible act for his successors to live up to, it is also true that South Africa today is a far cry from the winning nation he wants us to become.
President Jacob Zuma acknowledged this yesterday when he said that Mandela's dream of an economically free South Africa had still not been realised. In a frank admission of some of his government's failings, Zuma said: "We are also prioritising [and] improving state performance. We need a public service that is caring, efficient, effective and responsive to the needs of our people.
"People who are given budgets to buy textbooks must execute that task efficiently and timeously. Those who are given budgets to give our people water or electricity supplies must do so."
Madiba, at 94, continues to show us the way.