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We've already let go of Mandela - analyst

11 June 2013, 09:02

Cape Town - Former president Nelson Mandela has been out of the public eye for so long, analysts say, that his influence has waned.

Mandela, who was admitted to a Pretoria hospital on Saturday morning, was last seen in public in 2010.

"The bottom line is that Mr Mandela has not been at the moral and political centre of South Africa for a very long time," political commentator Eusebius McKaiser said on Monday.

"We have let go of him ages ago."

"I think there will be concerns from outside South Africa that Mandela is seen as the glue that holds South Africa together," analyst Daniel Silke told AFP.

"But I think that this is something long gone frankly."

With Mandela having made his last political speech in 2009, South Africa's political arena has shifted radically.

"The point needs to be made that society and politics have changed in South Africa since the Mandela era," said Silke.

"I just don't think that Nelson Mandela's passing is going to have any dramatic effect on domestic politics in South Africa," he added.

Increasing acceptance of his mortality, with increasing hospital stays, has also seen the once-taboo topic of death broached as South Africa contemplates itself as a post-Mandela society.

His hospitalisation has triggered an outpouring of wishes for his recovery.

But this is often motivated by a genuine love for the man and his role in shaping the country, rather than melodramatic fears for South Africa, said McKaiser.

He said it was not Mandela's mere presence which saved South Africa from becoming the next Zimbabwe, where white farmers saw their land seized, or from other instability.

"We, independent of his physical existence, are responsible for why the country has not been collapsing and so his non-existence cannot be a game changer."

A pull-back on reconciliation as many feared was unlikely, said Silke.

"The issue of reconciliation I think permeates South African politics way beyond the era of Nelson Mandela," he said.

During Mandela's longest hospital stay in December, an article Nelson Mandela is going to die - it's sad, but it's ok was penned.

In it, GroundUp editor Nathan Geffen argued that South Africa held together not because of the Mandela of today, but because of his work over his lifetime.

"It is insulting to Mandela to suggest that his lifetime's work will unravel at the end of his lifetime," he wrote. 

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