Item 1197 - Address by Nelson Mandela President of the African National Congress on the theme South Africa From Apartheid To Democracy The Challenge To Local Authorities and the Wider Community

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ZA COM MR-S-1197


Address by Nelson Mandela President of the African National Congress on the theme South Africa From Apartheid To Democracy The Challenge To Local Authorities and the Wider Community


  • 1993-01-01 - 1993-12-31 (c1993)

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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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Your Excellencies;
Lord Provost and Lord Mayors;

We are most grateful to the National Steering Committee of Local Authorities Against Apartheid; the LA Resource Unit on Apartheid; the Anti-Apartheid Movement and Glasgow City Council for making this National assembly possible.

May I also take this opportunity on behalf of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress to pay tribute to the contribution which Local Authorities in Britain have made to the international campaign against apartheid.

Your efforts in refusing to purchase goods from apartheid South Africa; in discouraging banks from having links with the apartheid economy; in seeking to enforce the sports and cultural boycotts; in pressing for disinvestment; in raising funds for our exiles in Mazimbu and elsewhere; and in many, many other ways, including the lobbying of successive British governments, were a remarkable expression of solidarity.

It was these actions, however small they may have appeared, which all contributed to the escalating pressures on the apartheid system which means that today it is appropriate to address the theme "South Africa: From Apartheid to Democracy".

Whilst we look forward to a new non-racial, non-sexist and democratic future for South Africa we can never forget the enormous destruction of human life and dignity which has been carried out in the name of apartheid.

This evil system not only exploited our people and poisoned our society, but it has caused havoc throughout the region resulting in massive death and destruction.

As we meet Angola continues to bleed from a conflict that the UN now estimates is resulting in a 1,000 deaths each day. But we must never forget that it is a conflict which has its roots in the system of apartheid and colonial rule in Southern Africa.

It is because of our love of humanity and our hatred of war and violence, that the ANC during the later part of the 1980s sought to establish, if the conditions existed, a negotiated political settlement to the crisis in our country.

The prospects for such a settlement began to take shape in 1990. We responded by entering into negotiations with the apartheid regime; we suspended the armed struggle; we called for the lifting of the sports and cultural boycotts; and much much more.

Indeed we did everything possible to give momentum to the process.

We had looked forward to rapid progress in the negotiations once the Convention for a Democratic South Africa was established in December 1991.

But this was not to be the case due to the intransigence of the De Klerk regime which blocked agreement at the II Plenary Session in May1992. Indeed the prospect of a negotiated settlement was nearly destroyed by the subsequent massacres at Boipatong and Bisho in June and September 1992 respectively.

However, the combined impact of mass action and international pressure, compelled the De Klerk regime to see sense.

Since 1 April this year, a multi-party negotiating process has been underway resulting in agreement on the establishment of a Transitional Executive Council (the TEC), an Independent Electoral Commission, an Independent Media Commission and an Independent Broadcasting Authority.

Above all, it has been agreed that 27 April 1994 will be the date for South Africa's first ever non-racial elections.

However agreement has still to be reached on the Transitional Constitution and the TEC and the other bodies will only be established when this has been enacted into law.

We judged, however, that once the tricameral parliament had approved the legislation to establish the TEC - which in effect means an end to exclusive white minority rule – that the point would have been reached when we could call for the lifting of economic sanctions.

We did so because we believe that we must put an end to the economic crisis which is destroying our country, if peace and democracy are to flourish.

We are calling for new inflows of trade and investment so that we can create a sound economic basis upon which we can engage in the process of development and reconstruction.

We appreciate, however, that you and the many hundreds of thousands of individuals across the world who refused to eat oranges or drink wine from apartheid South Africa are aware that the conditions of the Black workers on the agricultural estates in South. Africa producing these foodstuffs has not materially changed.

This explains why we want to engage with you in the struggle to transform our country to a non-racial democracy. No struggles are easy and the struggle against apartheid is no exception.

But we hope that you will continue to have faith in our cause as we move from being anti-apartheid to pro-democracy.

At this point I must stress that in calling for the lifting of economic sanctions we did not want nor expect the international community to accept the white minority regime as legitimate representative of all the people of South Africa. Nor did we call for any relaxation of military, nuclear and other strategic sanctions.

It was therefore premature for the European Council of Ministers on Monday of this week to lift the bans on the exchange of military attaches and on co-operation in the security field, even before the Transitional Executive Council is in place.

We hope that the EC members states will think again as to the wisdom of this move and resolve to maintain all the sanctions measures covering military, nuclear and strategic sanctions until a democratic at c government is in place.

We trust that the United Nations and Commonwealth will do likewise and that the OAU's position on the oil embargo will be respected, namely that it should continue until the TEC is in place and functioning.

We recognise, of course, that there may be need for the international community to support the proposed Peace-Keeping Force or to assist with the integration and democratisation of the security forces.

But we are confident that mechanisms can be established to provide such support and assistance without a blanket lifting of these bans.

Having said that, my main task this afternoon is to address the challenge which is posed to local authorities and the wider community in Britain by the transformation of South Africa from an apartheid state to a non-racial democracy.

I want to three key challenges:

The first challenge is to ensure that the elections take place on 27 April next year, that they are genuinely 'free and fair' and that all parties accept and respect the results as such.

We need you to remain engaged in support of this process in such a manner that everybody concerned in our country is left in no doubt as to the absolute determination of the international community that the elections proceed as planned.

However there are forces in our country which refuse to accept the inevitability of democratic change. They are prepared to resort to brute force to deny us our liberty and to create an atmosphere of fear, insecurity and destabilisation.

It is all the more essential, therefore, that the international community should play a role to assist us in the process of supervising, monitoring and verifying the electoral process.

We have appealed to the United Nations, the OAU, the Commonwealth and the European Community to co-operate together to make an effective contribution. We remain convinced that we can count on public opinion, as expressed through democratically elected local representatives, to make sure that the necessary human and financial resources are made available by the international community to make this a reality.

The second challenge is the need to ensure that the elections result in a decisive majority committed to a democratic future for South Africa. We in the ANC lead the struggle for democratic change and we must have the necessary financial resources if we are to contest the elections on an equitable basis.

We therefore launched the Votes for Freedom campaign here in Britain in order to raise ₤1 million towards the ANC's election fund.

The task before us is immense. The ANC has never contested an election in its history. The great majority of our potential supporters have never voted. Many are illiterate. Many still fear that the vote will not be secret and that they will face reprisals if they vote for the ANC. Many others fear the consequences of political violence. Only a massive programme of voter education and effective organisation and mobilisation will enable us to overcome these challenges.

Yet our resources are minimal compared with our main adversaries.

The third challenge is even greater. We want you to look beyond the coming elections to the task we face of transforming the South African society and of embarking on a programme of reconstruction and development which will be capable of burying both apartheid and all its legacies.

In this regard local authorities in Britain have a wealth of experience and talent in the fields of housing, education, social services, sporting and cultural facilities, municipal services and indeed the full range of services which we will wish to provide for our people at a local and regional level.

I know that you are already playing a role by training our people from the civics and non-racial sports bodies.

I know that valuable relations have been established in the cultural field. But there is going to be much, much more to be done once genuine structures of non-racial local government are established in South Africa.

We would urge the National Steering Committee to give detailed consideration to the task of preparing for this new agenda of solidarity.

As local authorities, you can also help to create a climate in which trade and investment relations can flourish between your communities and South Africa and to encourage them so that they contribute to our efforts of national reconstruction and development.

There are tremendous opportunities ahead as we seek to transform South Africa. There are prospects holding out of a new vision for the entire Southern African region.

We have every hope for the future. But we need your continuing commitment in order for it to become a reality.

The new non-racial South Africa must also become a. beacon of hope for all those resisting racism wherever it raises its ugly head.

We hope and trust that in renewing your solidarity with our cause you will also spare no effort in opposing the growing racism in Britain and Europe.

Thank you.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 20/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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