“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to helping others without expecting anything in return.” Dr. Nelson Mandela
Former President Donald J. Trump compared himself to Nelson Mandela and insisted he wasn’t afraid of being thrown in prison as he cast himself as a victim of state persecution during a campaign stop in New Hampshire recently .The former U.S. president also said he dreams about punching Joe Biden in the face, and vowed to build an Israeli-style Iron Dome missile defines shield over the U.S. Mandela spent 27 years behind bars for opposing decades of apartheid rule in South Africa. When finally released, he went on to lead the nation into a new era as president. Many Governance analysts have scoffed at the idea because the two differ in very many ways . This objective piece is a critical look at these former Presidents.
Early years of Dr.Nelson Mandela:
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. His father was Hendry Mphakanyiswa of the Tembu Tribe. Nelson Mandela was educated at University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand where he studied law.
Mandela was South Africa’s first black president and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. Mandela has earned over 250 honours and is recognised universally as one of the most significant figures of the 20th century and an icon of democracy and social justice. Mandela was driven by an unshakeable belief in the equality of all people and his determination to overthrow the system of apartheid in South Africa.
Early Years of Donald J.Trump:
Donald John Trump was born on June 14, 1946, at Jamaica Hospital in Queens, New York City, the fourth child of Fred Trump, a Bronx-born real estate developer whose parents were German immigrants, and Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, an immigrant from Scotland. As a child, Trump displayed behavioral difficulties. “He was a pretty rough fellow when he was small,” In an effort to instill a sense of discipline in him , at age 13, he was enrolled at the New York Military Academy, a private boarding school, and, in 1964, he enrolled at Fordham University. Two years later, he transferred to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in May 1968 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics
The Mandela years in office:
Nelson Mandela, the late President of South Africa, left an indelible mark on history through his tireless efforts in fighting against apartheid and his inclusive leadership during his presidency.
Dr. Frederik Willem de Klerk President and Deputy President under Mandela assured a jittery white South Africa that there cannot be a better person to heal and lead South Africa out of apartheid than the ‘Madiba’ Dr.Nelson Mandela. Here are some of the highlights & achievements of his administration:
1. End of Apartheid: Mandela’s most significant achievement was bringing an end to the apartheid regime in South Africa. He played a pivotal role in negotiating with the apartheid government, leading to the peaceful transition to a democratic society. Mandela’s determination and commitment to reconciliation helped avert a violent conflict, ensuring a more inclusive and equitable nation.
2. Truth and Reconciliation Commission: The TRC aimed to uncover the truth about human rights violations committed during apartheid and promoted reconciliation by allowing amnesty for those who fully disclosed their crimes. This process allowed the nation to come to terms with its painful past and move forward.
3. Promotion of Equality and Human Rights: Mandela’s administration introduced laws to protect minority rights, eliminate discrimination, and advance gender equality, which were significant milestones in building a more inclusive society.
4. International Diplomacy: Mandela skillfully used diplomacy to address global issues and promote peace internationally. He played an instrumental role in building relationships with world leaders and governments and used his influence to advocate for human rights and equality worldwide. Mandela’s efforts garnered international recognition and positioned South Africa as an influential player on the global stage.
5. Socioeconomic Reforms: His administration implemented policies aimed at redressing economic disparities, providing access to education, healthcare, and housing for marginalized communities. Mandela understood that true freedom required equitable access to opportunities and resources.
6. Legacy of Reconciliation: Mandela’s legacy of reconciliation and forgiveness remains a shining example for leaders around the world.
7. Stepping Down: Mandela set an important precedent by voluntarily stepping down as president after serving a single term. By doing so, he demonstrated his commitment to democratic principles and the peaceful transfer of power. This act solidified South Africa’s democratic foundation and set a precedent for future leaders. Speaking to President Olusrgun Obasanjo on the subject of one term in office he said the youth should be allowed to lead because they have the ‘woke’ brain and energy to move their country forward.
His leadership not only transformed South Africa but also served as an inspiration to people worldwide. Mandela’s legacy continues to symbolize the importance of perseverance, forgiveness, and unity in the face of adversity, making him an iconic figure in the fight against injustice.
Like any administration, there were controversies and downsides that should be acknowledged about the Mandela years . Let’s delve into some of the criticisms and challenges faced during Mandela’s presidency.
1. Economic Challenges: Mandela inherited an economy burdened by decades of apartheid policies, which resulted in significant income inequality and high unemployment rates, particularly among the black population.
2. Unresolved Socio-Economic Disparities: Despite efforts to uplift historically disadvantaged communities, deep-rooted socio-economic disparities continued to persist.
3. Inequality Gap amongst blacks , whites and Indians.
4. Crime and Violence: The Mandela administration struggled with high crime rates, particularly violent crimes such as murder and armed robbery.
5. HIV/AIDS Crisis: The HIV/AIDS epidemic was a major challenge faced by the Mandela administration.
6. Failed Land Redistribution Efforts
7. Political Challenges and Criticisms: Some believed his policies were too conciliatory towards the white minority, while others criticized him for not doing enough to address economic inequality.
It’s important to approach these controversies and downsides with nuance and consider the context of the immense challenges faced by the Mandela administration. Despite the criticisms, Nelson Mandela’s leadership remains widely celebrated for guiding South Africa through a peaceful transition to democracy and laying the foundation for a more inclusive and equal society.
The Trump years:
The Trump years hugged more negative sign posts than positive development. But let’s look at the fine side first. The Trump years witnessed tax reforms, economic deregulation, conservative (judges) appointments to the supreme court in the US , some immigration reforms and real time governance on social media . Trump was closer to Americans than any other President. His followers on socio media was well over 85 million.
Unfortunately Donald Trump’s presidency faced significant criticisms across various domains. Here are some major areas of contention:
1. Mishandling of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic drew criticism. Critics argued that he initially downplayed the severity of the virus, leading to delays in implementing a comprehensive response. The administration’s management of testing, conflicting messages on mask-wearing, and disputes with health experts also fueled criticism.
2. Divisive Rhetoric and Behavior: Trump’s communication style and rhetoric were often characterized as divisive and inflammatory. Critics argued that his statements and behavior undermined national unity and perpetuated animosity among different groups. This included his controversial comments on race, women, immigrants, and political opponents. He was rarely Presidential in the manner and way he conducted himself in public.
3. Immigration Policies: Trump’s approach to immigration drew criticism for its perceived harshness. The implementation of the “zero tolerance” policy, resulting in the separation of families at the border, sparked widespread condemnation. Additionally, his push for a border wall and various immigration restrictions faced legal challenges and generated controversy.
4. Relationship with Allies: Trump’s approach to international relations strained relationships with traditional allies. His skepticism towards international agreements and organizations, such as NATO and the Paris Climate Accord, created tensions. Allies expressed concerns about the weakening of multilateralism and increasing unilateral actions by the United States. Cosy relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin is still a mystery to many in the State department till today. He is known for his support for terrorist organisation like Hezebollah against the state of Israel. He called Africa countries shit holes & called for the abandonment of long time allies like South Korea , Japan and NATO.
5. Dismantling of Environmental Regulations: Trump’s administration rolled back numerous environmental regulations with the goal of reducing regulatory burdens on businesses. He was an advocate for the use of coal in a world interested in solar and wind power.
6. Ethics and Transparency Concerns: His dismissal or removal of government officials who disagreed with him also raised questions about the preservation of checks and balances in government. Rule of law took a back seat in his administration.
7. Communication with the Press: Trump’s adversarial relationship with the media was a subject of critique. His frequent attacks on journalists and news organizations, often referring to them as “fake news,” raised concerns about the erosion of press freedom and the role of a free press in a democratic society.
8. Response to Protests and Civil Unrest: Trump’s handling of protests and civil unrest sparked criticism. His rhetoric and responses to demonstrations against racial injustices led to accusations of exacerbating tensions and failing to address underlying issues.
Comparing the two Presidents
While President Mandela had a disciplined upbringing in Africa tradition. Trump was a rascal necessitating his father to send him to a military academy. Mandela as a lawyer was a strong believer in due process, Trump openly asked for elections to be rigged in his favour in the state of Georgia. Mandela is a respected Nobel prize winner while Trump is facing the law for encouraging his supporters to invade congress on January 6.
Mandela respected women Trump abused them using very foul language.
Governance analysts are struggling to see where and how the two President meet in terms of shared values & governance. They would need to look harder and longer and may come to nil in their search. Donald John Trump you are not Nelson Mandela in any way.
Michael Umogun is a Chartered Marketer with interest in public policy