Item 1115 - Opening Address to the NAT Congress

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ZA COM MR-S-1115


Opening Address to the NAT Congress


  • 1992-04-03 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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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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Address to the NAT Congress

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  • English

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It is a very special privilege for me to be addressing you all and to meet South Africans who have served our organisation honourably and courageously. I am well aware of the immense danger that the people who work in our intelligence and security community face and I say to you all, comrades the movement will need your courage and youru commitment for a long time yet.

The theme of our workshop, "Towards a Transformation of South African Intelligence" lays the ground for fundamental discussion on our own position as a liberation movement in the context of transformation and the tasks which race each separate section of the movement.

Comrade Nhlanhla has already given us an excellent guide as to what we are expected to achieve at this workshop. I wich to add a few words on the question of the tasks we face.

We have chosen to enter negotiations with our enemies fully aware of the fact that we are doing so in an atmosphere of antagonism and a fight for political power. We face an enemy with vast human and material resources at their disposal, whilst we have to rely on the resourcefullness of our people as a means to uncovering the strategies of the political players within the country as well as the pressures brought upon from external forces. We must be able to face the challenge of providing political intelligence to the leadership of our movement which is accurate and will inform vital decisions we make at the negotiating table.

At the same time we must face the challenge of integration of the security community at all levels.

In its proposal to CODESA the ANC has put forward the position that the interim governing council appointed by CODESA should take over the task of security.

The challenge that this poses for us, is, to provide competent and highly trained professionals to take hold of key positions in the interim security apparatus. The comrades who are placed there will have to ensure that the entire gambit of apartheid laws on national security are ineed reversed. .

That the security does not favour the South African Government and that policies which are accepted by the people on the basis of human rights principles are upheld and implemented by the security community.

We therefore have to have a multi-pronged approach to our tasks. We must continue to defend democracy and provide our movement with scientifically gathered intelligence which will inform decisions and at the same time we need to urgently upgrade the competence levels of our cadres in the security and intelligence community of the ANC. Whilst simultaneously we need to discuss policy perspectives on policing, the role of the military and principles or criteria which will govern the intelligence and security personnel in a future South Africa.

In order to achieve this momentous task we will have to be extremely selective and pragmatic in our choice of cadres, it will require men and women who are properly traiend to redress the present situation which pertains within the South African government structures, where the organs of policing, security, intelligence and defence are virtually intertwined. It is imperative for a democratic government to ensure that these organs which were set up to protect apartheid are democratised to serve the interests of a united, democratic, non racist and non sexist South Africa and protect human rights.

If we consider each apparatus in the security machinery, we have to acknowledge that the integration process of the SADF, Umkhonto we Sizwe and the homeland armies is an extremely complex process. In the process of discussing the integration of armed forces the National Party will no doubt try to ensure that the new Defence Force will be dominated by the SADF as a fallback measure, which will represent a more effective veto than a constitution could provide. We have to avoid this situation by upgrading the MK comrades, train ANC members to run the Ministry of Defence, look at the prospects of early retirement of the SADF officials, introduce a programme of affirmative action in the new Defence Force.

In a similar vein, the political leanings of intelligence personnel will present an obstacle to smooth integration. Control mechanisms for intelligence activity will therefore need to be subjected to regulations and limitations specified in relevant human rights legislation. A multi-paprty body should monitor the observation of these parameters. We need to take the lead in defining the mechanisms which must include an intelligence code of conduct. It must have rules which monitor the behaviour of officers. Thus ensuring that they remain within the confines of legal practice and acceptable ethical standards.

The traditional role of the Security Police in South Africa of torture, detention without trial, political assassination, intimidation, harrassment and corruption can not be tolerated in a future Intelligence Serviceā€¦

Our organisation has brought alive the practice of democracy in this country and we must be ready to uphold it.

Comrades I wish to touch on some matters which concern our organisation very directly. The question of discipline within our security community is of concern. We need not discuss this matter in depth, yet it is necessary for me to say that we expect the highest degree of discipline from the people in the intelligence and the security community. The level of discipline must place each cadre actively engaged in these structures above the rest of the membership so that they can defend our organisation at all levels.

We are facing an election which will be very tough. The quest for power by the majority of the people will be contested with the most severe actions on the part of our opponents. We cannot be found to be lacking in any way. We must set the example of taking lawlessness out of intelligence practice and present proper professional standards.

Our organisation is being put to the test by forces which do not have any credibility and yet we are being tested on our principled stances. One of which is maintaining discipline in our own ranks. The South African media is completely behind the Nationalsit Party government.

We saw how effectively the media and big business rallied to the aid of De Klerk in the referendum, we can expect to receive the same treatment in a general election. Yesterday on agenda we saw the media in action again, Comrade Mafumadi was asked in the situation Alexandra is not a carry over from the declaration by the ANC to render the structures of apartheid ungovernable. So whilst out people are attacked and killed the media tries to channel the blame of the violence onto the ANC.

I visited Alexandra township today and whilst there is an uneasy calmness in the area, the reality is that a situation of chaos is being created to scare people into submissiveness. It is an age old tactic to create voter apathy. The opponents of the ANC are past masters at presenting a Christian face with a hidden sharp knife in hand. Our primary tasks in the short term is to end the violence without falling into the trap being set for us where we will be forced to defend ourselves physically.

This is what our enemies are driving at, to create a civil war which will cause the procrastination of the political process towards change.

I have no doubt that we can rise to this challenge, but I believe that we also owe a responsibility to the proces we began, to be more interventionist at the local level and to direct the energies of our people towards building a nation. We need to assert a more proactive stance and we can do this, we do have a majority support base. Our task is to begin a process of political interaction which will render the blood thirsty approach of the regime and its black allies useless.

Comrades I salute you all and wish you fruitful deliberations which will define our tasks in a clear and decisive manner.


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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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