Item 1111 - Message by Nelson Mandela to the Natal Newspapers

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ZA COM MR-S-1111


Message by Nelson Mandela to the Natal Newspapers


  • 1992-01-01 - 1992-12-31 (1992)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare

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  • English

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The chairperson;
Media Chiefs of the Natal Newspapers;

Editors and Journalists;

Countrymen and Women;

I thank the Media Chiefs; editors and journalists of the Natal newspapers for having seen it necessary to honour us with this gathering.

The ANC has always paid special attention to the media because we believe it is an embodiment of the conscious will and public opinion of our people. It is also important to us because it has a bird eye's view to our organisation and can be a fountain of objective criticism to us. We believe an objective and constructive criticism strengthens us.

For hundred and forty years the Natal Mercury has articulated and in a way formed the public opinion of our people in this province. We remember with pride the role played by the Daily News under the stewardship of that doyen of the media in Natal, Michael Green, in 1974 before and during the Viva Frelimo Rally. The defiant coverage of that Rally by the Daily News fired our youth with enthusiasm and the spirit of defiance of the apartheid system. Michael Green has passed his baton to Mr Mostert van Schoor. We hope he will carry on and improve on that tradition.

The ANC believes in the freedom of expression and a truly independent media. The Natal newspapers have always found a way to report objectively even under the conditions of extreme repression under various states of emergency.

Today your colleagues employed by the SABC are locked in a bitter struggle with the management of that institution. They are under fire of racist arrogance. For four weeks our people, especially the black majority have not been receiving news and other programmes of the SABC. Yet they pay for radio and TV licences.

It would be important for the Natal Newspapers to highlight the plight of those SABC media workers and our people as a whole. To keep silent and take advantage of the SABC media workers, perhaps because it increases the sales of newspapers, would be short-sightedness. It is the media in general which is under attack. But the problem of the SABC goes deeper than the question of salaries. The SABC is basically undemocratic. The ANC demands that the SABC should stop being the mouthpiece of the Nationalist Party. We demand the democratisation of the state media and it should be placed under a truly independent authority.

Dear Compatriots,

We often correctly state that apartheid has failed. But that statement left as it is, is not hundred percent correct. Apartheid having failed, but it has done an enormous damage to our society. It has created Chinese walls among our people of different races. As a result and perhaps because of that we have different experiences and perhaps different perceptions of a new South Africa. Your newspapers which are read by our people across the colour line have a role to bring down those Chinese walls.

You are situated in Natal, a province which is tortured the most by the current violence. Unfortunately some newspapers have not done enough in terms of highlighting and giving an in depth analysis of this violence. It is noted that it is usually an alternative media, notably the Weekly Mail, New Nation, Wye Weekblad, New African and Umafrika, that have done more in this direction. We believe they are less funded to run the expensive investigative journalism. You are in a better position to do this.

We have evidence that the current violence is not accidental. It is nurtured and organised somewhere for specific reasons. It is a dangerous myth to believe that the chapter of the notorious "total strategy" was closed with the unceremonious departure of PW Botha and the coming into office of FW de Klerk which was followed by the unbanning of the ANC and other organisations. The total strategy is still in place. Those generals are still in place doing their usual job. To the eyes of the apartheid securocrats the ANC is still the public enemy number one which must be physically eliminated root and branch.

The "total strategy" involved the creation of the web of Joint Management Committees (JMC's) which were as a rule chaired by the police and army commanders. Their all- pervading presence permeated throughout our communities. Only the most gullible can believe that the government has dismantled the JMC's and the CCB. They are there destabilising our communities through violence. They are there organising and fomenting violence.

It benefits them because for it postpones the day of the demise of apartheid of which they were formed to defend and uphold.

If one looks at reports of International Commission of Jurists; Amnesty International and Goldstone Commission which was unscrupulously abused by the government, one finds the common theme - the involvement of the security forces in violence. No one is suggesting here that the political rivalry between different political parties including the ANC and the IFP is not contributing to violence. But in the Western Cape there is virtually no IFP presence yet there is violence. The government is either incapable to control the security forces or is an accomplice to violence.

The government has created an impasse in CODESA. It is strange that some people ask the ANC whether it is still interested in the process of negotiations or CODESA. But negotiations are the product of the ANC. What caused an impasse at CODESA 2 is not a technical problem of percentages. It is a fundamental principle of whether we continue with apartheid or we open a new page of national democracy. The government wants to cling to power and continue with apartheid. We cannot allow that. The demand that we need up to 80% for anything to move in terms of the future constitution is a recipe for constitutional crisis. This country is already in deep crisis. Why should we allow the government to sink our country into deeper crisis?

The ANC and other people's organisations have called on our people to embark on mass action not only to unlock the deadlock at CODESA. There are other grievances that are facing our people such as the assassinations perpetrated by the security forces, The corruption at the highest level of the government is financed by the taxpayer.

We believe mass action is legitimate especially when we take into consideration the fact that the majority of our people are voteless and therefore cannot go to their respective Members of Parliament to lodge complaints. We are aware that mass action will negatively affect the economy but that is a price we are prepared to pay for the movement to national democracy. De Klerk and Pik Botha can trudge the world but any meaningful improvement in relations with other countries will depend on the speed this country moves towards national democracy. The government has the key. But if it fails to unlock the door to national democracy, we will teach it how to use that key.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 13/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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