It’s about respect not politics and past

Talkback last night was full of criticism of New Zealand’s delegation to Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Prime Minister John Key will lead a small group of New Zealanders to pay respects to Nelson Mandela at his official memorial service in South Africa.

“Nelson Mandela was a global icon for freedom who united South Africans following apartheid,” says Mr Key.

“Madiba’s achievements demonstrate what can be attained through forgiveness and reconciliation. His vision for South Africa was one of freedom and equality. It remains an inspiration to the world.”

Mr Key will be accompanied by the Minister of Maori Affairs, Hon Dr Pita Sharples; Leader of the Opposition, Hon David Cunliffe, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Rt Hon Jim Bolger; and former Foreign Minister and Secretary‑General of the Commonwealth, the Rt Hon Sir Don McKinnon.

“This distinguished delegation reflects the mana of Mr Mandela, and the highest regard in which New Zealand held him,” says Mr Key.

“New Zealand has a close friendship with South Africa, built on the solid foundation of Commonwealth, sporting and personal ties. New Zealanders felt an emotional connection with Nelson Mandela and our sympathies are with the people of South Africa at this difficult time.’’ . .

The critics don’t seem to understand that this is about respect for Mr Mandela, not politics and not the past to which they cling.

Attempting to politicise this is disrespectful to the man and what he stood for – reconciliation and forgiveness.

6 Responses to It’s about respect not politics and past

  1. Andrei says:

    Oh dear John Minto will not be getting a taxpayer funded junket to South Africa, where he could posture and pose before the cameras.

    How very sad 😦 Not 🙂

  2. Armchair Critic says:

    No, Ele. Only one part of of three from the title of the post is correct.
    It is about the past. Funerals are a celebration of life. By necessity they are about the past. Nelson Mandela lived a long and interesting life, so there is a lot of past to be celebrated. Suggesting that “it’s not about the past” is disrespectful.
    It is about politics. Nelson Mandela was a political figure, amongst other things. Apartheid was a political system. NZ’s delegation to the funeral are politicians. Imagining that the funeral is not about politics is fanciful.
    Where you got it right is that it is about respect. Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying that the news of the Hamilton game being cancelled was “like the sun had come out”; it was a pivotal moment in his life. Whoever decided and approved the composition of the NZ delegation has not shown an iota of respect for the people responsible for that moment. I’d expect a competent PM to have recognised this, noted the disrespect and, with the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation that Mandela showed, extended an invitation to one or two of the protest organisers.
    With regard to the criticism (on talkback last night), I’m interested to understand why you think it was unwarranted. I’m no fan of John Minto, but he should certainly be invited to travel as part of the NZ delegation and attend the funeral. Is it just pettiness on your part, because history has shown Minto got something right and the National party got it soooo wrong in 1981, or do you have something more substantial? The whole talkback thing looks like another sign that the PM is becoming increasingly out of touch, and that’s a bad thing for National a year out from an election.

  3. homepaddock says:

    You’re right funerals are about the past, I should have said it’s not about relitigating the past.

    This is an official delegation of parliamentarians to pay respect to Mandela, not a tribute to anyone else’s actions.

    No-one is questioning Minto’s campaign against apartheid but this shows it was a vehicle for a bigger fight:

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2013/12/minto_on_mandela.html: (quoting Poneke)
    ” I went to a meeting Mandela attended at the St Matthews in the City church in Auckland. To my astonishment, and dismay, John Minto, who was there, hectored the great man for not kicking private enterprise and transnational companies out of South Africa after apartheid ended. A bewildered Mandela asked Minto how he expected people to find work if their employers were banished. It was at that moment I realised Minto was not driven by opposition to racism but by opposition to the entire capitalist system.”

  4. Armchair Critic says:

    The editorial in the Herald this morning does not make for pretty reading. In essence it says the PM considered extending the invitation to protest leaders and for one reason or another decided (or agreed) not to. The editor then moves straight on to questioning how this reflects on his political nous.
    I think the delegation does not need to be only parliamentarians showing respect. Neither Bolger nor McKinnon are MPs in today’s parliament.

  5. Paranormal says:

    IMHO the PM has got it right. Ele is also correct. As appropriate – our official delegation is of New Zealand officials. Simple.

    Minto, a classic “hater and wrecker” to coin a phrase, should not be given the time of day. He has already snubbed post apartheid South Africa a number of times. It would be hypocritical of him if he accepted a junket now.

  6. Armchair Critic says:

    Minto was not the only leader of the protests in 1981; there are others who could have been invited.
    If the Herald editorial isn’t enough, I recommend the Southland Times.

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