By Naledi Pandor
The pandemic has caused mass destruction of an already brittle global socio-economic landscape. At this moment of re-imagining President Mandela, we should be re-emboldened to create a new vision, based on a moral and ethical foundation of our current international system.
This year we observed Nelson Mandela International Day under the theme: A New Social Contract between Nations: Reducing Inequality at a global level.
This calls for a re-evaluation of the current global structures that the Covid-19 global pandemic has torn apart in many instances.
Covid-19 is creating untold economic, social and psychological destruction in its wake.
Its sheer scale of rack and ruin is all too overwhelming for any one country to manage on its own. It is in this spirit that we decided to initiate global dialogue around building a new social contract between nations in order to reduce inequality.
As this pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the world, it has begun to transform global consciousness by forcing large sections of the international community to re-think traditional approaches to fighting poverty, global inequality and underdevelopment. Its debilitating effects are drawing the world’s attention, much more closely, to the vision of President Mandela that “we can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your and our hands to make a difference”.
It is indeed in the hands of the international community to make a difference by building meaningful and lasting partnerships for a developmental agenda that will enable the world to stand as one against global pandemics, poverty, inequality and injustice.
We believe that the outbreak of this pandemic has forced on to the global agenda the imperative of re-imagining a new social contract between nations to reduce inequality and poverty at a global level.
Failure or inadequacy to withstand the effects of this pandemic by countries in both the Global North and the Global South underscores the reality of global and national inequality as well as the need to re-evaluate current global social, economic and health structures which have been rendered very weak by the unrelenting waves of the pandemic. In this spirit of President Mandela, partnerships within a multilateral framework are our best foot forward.
While both the developed and the developing worlds have suffered Covid-19’s dreadful effects, the developing world has unequally borne the brunt due to its fragile economies, weak institutions and in particular, inadequate public health systems.
With the pandemic’s destruction of this already brittle global socio-economic landscape, this moment of re-imagining President Mandela should re-embolden us to create a new vision, based on a moral and ethical foundation of our current international system.
As we celebrate the legacy of President Nelson Mandela, the world needs to take seriously the core principles which define his vision. President Nelson Mandela would expect that we look to a human vision, one that revolves around the good of all as we determine responses to the pandemic.
President Mandela’s legacy echoes these noble visions which he so distinctly embodied. As part of this embodiment of Mandela’s core legacy are principles such as equality for all, both within and between nations, upholding social justice, promotion of social equity and the utilisation of solidarity as a momentum intended to eliminate communicable diseases and poverty. All of these as pre-conditions for a sustainable world conducive to human dignity.
Covid-19 has shown us that while its impact is indiscriminate, resilience to withstand and mitigate its dire consequences hinge on developed public health systems, robust economic institutions as well as the state of social development which empowers citizens.
Happily, we have seen humane responses to emerging needs. We wish to see more. Those who have the means must share with the less privileged.
Everyone has the ability and the responsibility to change the world for the better. In Madiba’s words:
“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
We should work towards the elimination of both national and global inequality, for the creation of a just global order as well as a humane world whose values Nelson Mandela radiated during his lifetime.
Naledi Pandor is Minister of International Relations and Cooperation