It is a political ecology, which, while rife with discordant voices and atonal noises on the surface, needs every voice for the survival of all, at least at an imperceptible level. This is what we have in mind when we speak of our indissoluble future as a nation. Mahatma Gandhi could have had us in mind when he admonished that "civilisation is the encouragement of differences."
Accordingly, I have learnt to understand liberalism, political conservatism, nationalism, socialism, and numerous other ideologies represented in this House. While poles apart from all these other ideological orientations, I have never for one moment doubted the abiding sincerity of each political party represented in Parliament to contribute to the reconstruction and development of our country.
Misguided as some may be, and I think some indeed are, all these political parties in this august House are here as the organic expression of popular sentiments. So, Mr Speaker, I am filled with sadness because I am leaving this House after about six years of history.
Being asked to serve one's country at any point in history is always an honour. However, the truth is that our nation is replete with luminous talent. Not only that, but at some point serving leadership must give way so that new blood, fired up with life-changing ideas, can take society to a higher level of development. The time necessarily comes when all leaders, as H G Wells advises, "should lead as far as they can and then vanish. Their ashes should not choke the fire they have lit." [Applause.] I would not let my ashes choke the verdant future that is beginning to assume some discernible outlines on the horizon. Few have been the moments in human history when the time was ever right for a leader to leave.
On another level, I am happy to have played the small part history has assigned me. I leave office over the moon that the ANC, and by extension the people of our country, have entrusted me with the responsibility to help steer our nation towards the future.
Mr Speaker and hon members, just as misperceptions about our country's being yet another case of a flash in the pan were proven hollow, the world was, in 2008, struck by the most devastating financial meltdown experienced in decades.
As only South Africans know how, we once again employed social dialogue as a mechanism to bring together all role-players - government, the trade union movement and organised business - the better to compare notes, fully aware that any looseness in our relations would spell doom for all of us. This is a key lesson about our national character. Going forward, let us consolidate the principle of social dialogue as the central defining tenet of our nationhood.
I have come to the conclusion that as this House moves into the fifth term of office, we will need to come to terms with the imperatives of the age. We need to service a large vision, one bigger than the clutter of the age. Right now South Africa does not need man the politician but, in a classical sense, it needs man the creator - bold visionaries whose sights transcend the frontiers of time.
The imperatives of our time enjoin this august House to rise above beguiling but small-minded discourse adorned with rhetorical embroidery, in order to think realistically about the future of our nation. We have a duty to this nation and a responsibility to posterity. That responsibility has just begun.
We have to do this bearing in mind Franois Chateaubriand's assertion that, "every revolution is the consequence of one revolution and the beginning of another." We are in the middle of another revolution. We dare not sell out.
I would like to end by thanking President Jacob Zuma for his unwavering support through all these years, my colleagues in Cabinet, both Ministers and Deputy Ministers, and Members of Parliament, as well as presiding officers with whom I have interacted in my capacity as Leader of Government Business.
On a lighter note, when I was appointed Leader of Government Business, I was approached by many people who said that now that they had appointed the right person, they were interested in business. [Laughter.] This, of course, was said in whispers until I explained that the Leader of Government Business was the bridge between Cabinet and Parliament. [Laughter.] It has nothing to do with public enterprise and business contracts. [Laughter.]
Let me also acknowledge the stellar support from the staff in my office and the Presidency in general. Lastly, I wish to thank the people of our nation for the trust they have shown in me.
In conclusion, Mr Speaker and hon members, I ask myself, what is to be a man's last words in the face of this historic day? And all I can say is: Fare thee well, friends, since I must needs be gone!
Na Khensa, ndo a livhuwa, ngiya thokoza, baie dankie, ke a leboga, thank you. [Applause.]