His administration continued the government’s existing economic policy, which has given South Africa one of the strongest economic positions on the continent. He also introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty and expand healthcare services. Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, as well as overseeing military intervention in Lesotho.
Mandela declined to run for a second term as South African president, preferring to work as an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
For his efforts Mandela received international acclaim, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Soviet Order of Lenin.
Bitterness would have been an understandable course for Nelson Mandela. Fortunately, he was too big a man for that and instead chose the path of reconciliation.
Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sunday. His regular column appears on Thursday. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.