A TRIBUTE TO NELSON MANDELA BY TONY LEON MP. DEMOCRATIC PARTY, PARLIAMENT, CAPE TOWN, FRIDAY March 26 1999
There are three categories of great political leaders. The first is the great and the bad: this includes Hitler and Stalin. The second is the great and the good: this includes Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. And then there is a third category, also of good, but of a leader born with a special kind of grace, who seems to transcend the politics of his age. This is a very small category, and in fact I can think of only two such men in this Century: Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
However, Mr Mandela was, and also remains, a staunch politician. But he is a politician who did manage to raise the sights of our politics. We thank him for this. We acknowledge that when he clashed with us as the opposition it was on the great issues and on core principles and how he avoided - at all times and in all circumstances - the petty bitterness of personal jealousy. We see how he was that rarest phenomenon - a committed politician and an unusually agreeable and generous man.
"Tho' much is taken; much abides,
That which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Strong in will,
To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield."
People might think it is difficult for a politician to give tribute to a man of an opposing party. In fact this is the easiest speech I have ever delivered to this house. I am deeply honoured that l have been able to see from these benches the ending of apartheid and the beginning of full democracy under the Presidency of Nelson Mandela. My respect and admiration for him is unconditional. He graces this house. He graces this country. He graces humanity.