Item 1130 - Address by CDE Nelson Mandela Deputy President of the African National Congress at the Opening of the Eastern Cape Office of the ANC

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ZA COM MR-S-1130


Address by CDE Nelson Mandela Deputy President of the African National Congress at the Opening of the Eastern Cape Office of the ANC


  • 1990-08-15 (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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Opening of the ANC Eastern Cape office

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  • English

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Dear Comrades, Compatriots and Friends,

I salute you on behalf of the National Executive Committee of the ANC.

It is with a sense of our impending victory for democracy that we meet here today to open the new regional office of the ANC. The Eastern Cape has always been an outstanding example of the heroic resistance of our people against colonialism, apartheid and exploitation. Today we can look back proudly on our rich traditions of resistance that have produced dedicated leaders such as Comrades Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba and Matthew Goniwe, and countless others who have contributed so greatly to our liberation struggle.

I greet our lasting allies in COSATU, SACP, UDF and the many democratic formations in the community, religious, educational and business sectors. Your struggles liberated us from the dungeons of apartheid. Your efforts must continue to consolidate this mighty movement of our people.

The branches and regions are the building blocks of democracy within the ANC.

Our future political order must be based on mass democratic participation by our people. Ensure that our organisation spreads to every street of our townships and every dorp and rural area. We must feel the pulse of nation, and reflect that in our decision-making, polices and actions. Our movement must become the school of democracy in our land.

To achieve this goal our elected leaders must be exemplary. Discipline, humility and commitment must be watchwords of our code of conduct. We are servants of our people, not their masters. This requires us to be accountable to our structures, acting on mandates and giving report backs,

Our battle for democracy still faces many obstacles. Apartheid has devastated our economy and plunged our country into escalating violence. The masses of our people in both the urban and rural areas are locked into brutal poverty. The human, social and economic costs are incalculable.

The African National Congress, since our launch in 1912, has stood for the opposite of apartheid. Born of the furnace of the people's courageous resistance against colonialism, we proudly stand today as the primary democratic alternative to the apartheid nightmare of racism and inhumanity.

You have achieved this. Now as we march the last mile to our freedom, let us all- men, women and children- place our shoulders to the wheel of liberation.

The ANC has always represented the unity of our people irrespective of race, sex, class or religion. As early as 1955, in the Congress of the People, we adopted the Freedom Charter, which even today provides a shining beacon for our transition to a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and undivided South Africa.

These have been further elaborated in the Constitutional Guidelines, around which we have urged full and open debate so that our people can decide the shape and content of the post- apartheid society.

It is therefore pleasing to note that various initiatives are being taken to develop charters in various sectors, such as workers, women, health and education. This must be encouraged at a branch and regional level.

With confidence in our strength, we must continue to unify our people, both within our ranks as a democratic movement, and more broadly within South Africa.

We carry a heavy responsibility to repair the violent divisions and hatred that apartheid has sown. That is why the ANC is prepared to talk to any organisation, in order to convince them of our point of view.

This does not mean that we impose our leadership this has to be earned through our hard work. At the same time, the ANC is not going to become an umbrella protecting discredited leaders. They will have to involve themselves concretely in our struggle- and resolve their problems with our people.

Today we see unacceptable levels of violence in our country. The primary cause of such violence is still apartheid. Brutal police violence, and the imposition of puppet structures in our communities, constantly sparks of conflict.

Casualties are rising rapidly because the police are trained to react with extreme violence. South Africa is not the only country with disturbances- yet in other civilised countries, police use acceptable methods to control disturbances. Here, every black person is a military target. Therefore, the role of the security forces in this on- going violence will continue to be a major obstacle to creating a climate conducive to genuine negotiations.

From the side of the ANC, we are prepared to do everything to end this mindless spiral of violence, of which apartheid is the root cause. As a revolutionary movement, we are committed to peace and to minimising the loss of life.

The recent violence in the Eastern Cape remains a blot on our struggle for democracy. The responsibility for this rests directly at the door of the apartheid authorities. Dummy structures have for years stifled democratic participation and failed to meet the basic needs of the people. The explosion of peoples' anger, and the brutal intervention of the security forces allowed criminal elements to exploit the situation. This is no fault of the ANC and we condemn the violence which led to such death, injury and destruction. We are committed to building democratic disciplined structures through which people can genuinely participate in decisions that affect their lives.

The struggles of our people, led by the ANC, opened up possibilities for negotiated political settlement. As a result, we seized the opportunity to meet the Nationalist Party and in the process remove the obstacles to creating a climate conducive to negotiations.

We met the government both at Groote Schuur on the second of May and again in Pretoria on the sixth of August. We have agreed on the process of releasing political prisoners and phasing in the return of political exiles from the first of September 1990. A working group has been instructed to present its final report by the end of August.

These comrades will be granted indemnity as from the first of October 1990. The government has committed itself to giving immediate consideration to the suspension of sections of the Internal Security Act and further, to beginning a process which will be open to all persons and organisations- to review security legislation.

On the basis of these commitments received from the government, the ANC has announced an immediate suspension of the armed struggle.

We have made it very clear to the government that we retain the legitimate right to defend ourselves against state- sponsored violence. This right extends to resuming the armed struggle if the government fails to meet its commitments.

We have taken this bold step because we require decisive action to break the present log jam and to demonstrate our commitment to peace and a negotiated end to apartheid.

We call all democratic forces to join this search for peace. We need to build mutual trust amongst all our people. We urge that we lay the past to rest and concentrate on building our common future that should be based on non-racial, multi- party democracy.

Our goal is shared by millions. The masses of our people must participate in determining the future. A non-racial and democratic constitution must be drawn up by representatives elected by our people on the basis of universal suffrage. This remains our only guarantee for permanent peace and stability.

The policies and actions of the ANC open the way for the development of a stable economy. The ANC is committed to developing a vibrant and dynamic mixed economy, based on private and public ownership as well as a co-operative sector. The racist domination of the economy and land will have to end with the demise of apartheid. The inequalities of apartheid that caused massive poverty and deprivation amongst the masses of our people will have to be addressed urgently by a democratic government.

At the same time, the democracy we are building must permeate at both political and economic levels.

The ANC does not have any blueprints for this process. We are prepared to engage in a democratic debate on these issues. We urge the vested economic and political interests not to create mass hysteria, especially amongst our white community, about the policies of the ANC.

Now is the time to deal with the real hardships that face our people, such as the housing, health and education crisis.

Now is the time to focus our energies in curbing the brutal excesses of the security forces, vigilante and criminal elements in our society.

Now is the time to work together to establish a democratic economy that will provide jobs for all at a living wage, and which will provide the goods needed by our people.

The ANC goes forward to its first National Congress held legally inside the country in 30 years on the 16th December 1990. This Congress must be our people's parliament. The issues to be resolved there must be democratically discussed in all branches and regions.

We also thank the business community, especially Premier Milling which has donated so generously to the purchase of the furniture for this new office.

In conclusion, we wish to salute the efforts of our interim committee and membership on the occasion of the launch of this region and its new offices.

We urge all democrats to join and support our efforts to usher in a new South Africa based on peace and democracy, which will be able to proudly take its place in the international community of nations.

Thank you.
Amandla awethu!

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 14/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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