Item 1237 - Notes for Speech by President Mandela to Congressional Black Caucus Luncheon

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ZA COM MR-S-1237


Notes for Speech by President Mandela to Congressional Black Caucus Luncheon


  • 1994-10-05 (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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Congressional Black Caucus Luncheon

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  • English

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It is a great honour and a source of joy for me to be with you today. For us to share views with the Congressional Black Caucus is to speak not to strangers or mere supporters. We speak to you as part of us, and we as part of you: friends, colleagues, brothers and sisters in the joint effort to create a world in which discrimination on the basis of race or gender is a thing of the past.

It is therefore with a sense of pride that we are able to say to you, on behalf of all our people: Dear Colleagues, South Africa is now in the hands of the people. We are free at last!

Our common origins and our similar bitter experiences in the centuries and decades gone by have so decreed that we should endure our pains and celebrate our joy as one. The victory of democracy in South Africa is therefore
your victory; it is the common achievement of all humanity.

We wish to pay tribute to the Congressional Black Caucus and all those you represent, for your unwavering support in the struggle to eradicate apartheid. The role which the Caucus played in assisting to bring about a non-racial and democratic South Africa will always be highly cherished by our people. Many of you here today were in South Africa last April and May to witness the elections and join us in celebrating the birth of our nation.

It is fitting at a moment like this, to pay tribute to the millions who sacrificed in various ways to secure a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa. The scroll of honour includes giants such as WEB du Bois, Nkwame Nkrumah, Eduardo Mondlane, Albert Luthuli, Martin Luther King Jnr, Oliver Tambo and many more. However, the most fitting tribute to these leaders who paved the way for our small South African miracle is to ensure that we build the better life for which they struggled.

We have traversed the first phase of South Africa's transition with a great measure of success. The Government of National Unity has made significant strides in laying the foundation for the two interrelated tasks that we face: national reconciliation and reconstruction, nation-building and development. Perhaps the greatest achievement of this era is the ease with which various communities have found one another, building an unprecedented national consensus around these crucial tasks.

These are however only the first steps in the long journey to South Africa's national redemption. The democratic movement does have in its hands elements of democratic power. But a great deal needs to be done to ensure that democracy becomes a living reality for all citizens. This entails, among other challenges:
* setting democratic provincial and local structures on an operational footing;
* restructuring the public service, security forces and the judiciary to be representative of the population as a whole and to serve the cause of democracy; and
* intensifying the process of implementing measures aimed at improving the lives especially of black people.
The Government does appreciate, as you will, that the success of democracy itself depends on progress we achieve in addressing the material needs of people.

The Reconstruction and Development Programme is an all-encompassing process of transforming our society in order to deal with the legacy of deprivation and poverty which apartheid has left us.

The scale of this process, and our commitment to achieving it on the basis of fiscal constraint and prudent use of national resources, has meant that we have had to spend some months in careful preparation and planning. But we are poised to begin the reconstruction of our country in earnest, and the first steps have already been taken.

In this regard we are grateful for the aid which we are getting from the United States. We are also learning very keenly from your experiences over the decades. But we are mindful of the fact that, ultimately, we must rely on our own resources and on actual investment to provide what is needed for reconstruction and development.

In the process, we need together to challenge the lingering scepticism in some quarters concerning the determination and capacity of South Africa's leaders to manage the political and economic transition. More often, this pessimism draws on the history of the conflict which our country has left behind.

In this regard, we shall rely on the Congressional Black Caucus to help promote South Africa for its objective qualities: its natural beauty, its sophisticated infrastructure and financial system and its realistic policies to ensure economic growth and equity.

The achievements we have made in South. Africa have opened the way, at last, for Africa as a continent to build a new all-inclusive partnership based on democracy, human rights and social justice.

South Africa is prepared to play her role in ensuring that the African renaissance becomes a reality as we step into the next century. This means promoting the cause of human rights, pro-active measures to eliminate debilitating conflict and co-operation on the economic front taking into account the need for sound sustainable policies. We intend to do this as part of the Organisation of African Unity and other continental and regional institutions of which we have become full and active members.

In conclusion, I wish again to refer to the good relations that we have developed over the years with the Congressional Black Caucus, the US Congress and the Administration. May this partnership grow from strength to strength in our common endeavours for justice, economic prosperity and a healthier environment for all peoples.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 21/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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