Hon Speaker, the Chairperson of the NCOP, hon members and the Mandela and Sisulu families, if there had been the best of times and the worst of times in South Africa and the world, this is the worst of times, while the best was when he was around. If there is a period of incredulity, this is the period. Much as we know that death is the way of all flesh, we South Africans find it hard to believe that former President Mandela has been called to glory.
Words cannot suffice to express the emptiness, dryness, sadness and paralysis that have befallen the country, though we knew it had to happen. We continue to pinch ourselves to find out if it is true. This is one man, we believe, who deserves to be immortalised, not only in thought, but also in flesh.
UBawo [Mr] Nelson Mandela was the darling of all young people. He was able to relate to all people across the colour spectrum, around the globe and back home across political lines. He was a father to all.
President Nelson Mandela had a fantastic memory. He could remember events and names of people as if he lived with them daily. I was introduced to him once at the election centre in Pretoria. The two subsequent times we met thereafter, he called me by name and asked how Kgosi Mangope was doing.
His humility belied the ruthlessness in him if he was pushed too far. No one can forget how he came down like a ton of bricks on the then President De Klerk at the first sitting of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, Codesa, but was prepared to continue negotiating with him and even to work alongside him in the Government of National Unity.
The same Nelson Mandela traversed the length and breadth of this country persuading all leaders of all formations to rise up and build a new South Africa. Those who spurned his invitation never knew what hit them thereafter. On behalf of the UCDP, I salute this indefatigable intellectual who sought to inspire confidence, leadership and political wisdom.
It will not be out of step to compare President Nelson Mandela to his namesake, Horatio Nelson. When the British troops were under siege in the battle of Trafalgar and the king sent a white flag for him to surrender, he put his telescope on the blind eye and said, "I see no order to surrender." He then coaxed his troops to keep on fighting.
In similar fashion, when most people were on the verge of accepting apartheid as a fait accompli, Nelson Mandela said, "No." Here it is, we are about to complete 20 years under black majority rule and the heavens have not caved in. He stood up and spoke out against domination.
Let us take solace in what David, the psalmist, says in Psalm 30: "There will be sorrow in the evening but joy in the morning." This is our evening and as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, South Africa will be a land and place of joy and happiness in the future, thanks to Tata Mandela.
Our commiserations go to the family, aBathembu bonke bephelele [the Thembu tribe as a whole], the government of the Republic of South Africa, his political fort, the ANC, and all who lived in his shadow. Lala ngoxolo Mandela omde. Aah, Dalibhunga! [Rest in peace, Mandela. Aah, Dalibhunga!]