Item 1217 - Nelson R. Mandela's President of the ANC Media Statement on the State of Emergency in Natal

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ZA COM MR-S-1217


Nelson R. Mandela's President of the ANC Media Statement on the State of Emergency in Natal


  • 1994 (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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  • English

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The declaration of a blanket State of Emergency in Natal and KwaZulu was done in consultation with the Transitional Executive Council as a last resort measure to prevent the further loss of life in that troubled part of our country.

I have personally been deeply saddened by the countless numbers of ordinary people who have lost their lives in the violence that has racked South Africa. Innocent blood has been shed, and all South Africans, regardless of their political affiliation, race, ethnic or language group, have been diminished by it. These are losses to South Africa as a nation which all of us should mourn.

Today's action, has one purpose and should have one purpose only: That is to stem the tide of violence, which if left unaddressed will engulf us all. It is criminal that the citizens of this country - who ever they are - should be reduced to pawns in the political games of ambitious leaders. People deserve the right to be able to lead their lives without fear of violence. They deserve the right to express themselves without threats of death being visited upon them. They deserve the right to choose for themselves whether or not they will vote in the coming elections or not.

These are the issues at stake in Natal and KwaZulu and no political rhetoric must be allowed to obscure that. The State of Emergency enjoys my wholehearted support and I appeal to all South Africans to abstain from any actions that will impair its purpose.

I shall expect all ANC organised structures in Natal and KwaZulu to so conduct themselves as to assist the attainment of the objectives I have underscored. ANC members and supporters must take the lead in ensuring that the climate of violence and bloodletting in that province abates so that our people in Natal and KwaZulu can freely exercise their rights to participate in the elections, if they so choose, or to stay away from the polls if that is their decision.

I am making an appeal to all of us to remain calm. There are those who fear democracy and are bent on creating the maximum amount of chaos through acts of violence and mayhem. We have already seen them in action in a number of cities.

We must all affirm our commitment to peaceful, free and fair elections by protecting every citizens right to participate without let or hindrance from any quarter. As leaders of political opinion we must all affirm our commitment to peaceful, free and fair elections by asserting and protecting the right of every political party, however objectionable we might consider its views, to express itself and canvass support without fear of intimidation from any quarter.

That it has been necessary to have recourse to such measures in Natal is highly regrettable. As a movement we have used every ounce of the talent we have to try to find another way. We remain committed to seeking a dialogue with King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu. We shall continue bilateral discussions with the Inkatha Freedom Party. I am ready to proceed with the propose summit among President de Klerk, Chief Minister Buthelezi, the Zulu monarch and myself.

A number of measures become necessary if this limited State of Emergency is to achieve its stated purpose. I expect that the security forces will with all deliberate speed take steps to contain the perpetrators of violence and death. All those persons whom investigations have implicated in hit squad activities should be apprehended, charged and brought before the law courts as swiftly as possible. All members of the security forces who have similarly been implicated should be disarmed and suspended from duty forthwith. This necessarily must include the Caprivi Strip trainees who have since been absorbed in various structures of the KwaZulu Administration. I expect, too that the training camps established with the express aim of destabilising that province will be shut down immediately.

While these drastic measures have become necessary to save life, we must not allow the draconian powers which the state has assumed to become yet one more obstacle on our road to democracy. The mini-State of Emergency has been proclaimed so that the elections may proceed in an atmosphere of calm. Its provisions must not be subversive of free
political activity nor must they be employed to harass and intimidate the political opponents of the KwaZulu administration. Police Units, such as the Internal Stability Division, that have demonstrably lost the confidence of a wide section of the African community should not be deployed in Natal.

The postponement of the April 27th Elections is not an option that our country can afford. I reaffirm the ANC's stand that we shall not contemplate such a postponement. The steps taken today should enable us to proceed to the agreed election date in a context of relative peace.

We cannot and shall not allow the spoilers and the wreckers to succeed. To succumb to their threats and bullying tactics now would be a fatal error.

The ANC remains extremely confident about our country's future. This is a truly historic moment of opportunity and challenge. In years to come we will look back on these days as but an interlude in a period of great optimism. The future we can build as a nation beckons us. Let us all work together and we shall surely build a better life for all South Africans.

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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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