Item 124 - Message by Nelson Mandela to the people of Gaphaahla

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Message by Nelson Mandela to the people of Gaphaahla


  • 1992-11-30 (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 Website

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Sod-turning ceremony for construction of a dam

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  • English

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Chief Phalha,
Distinguished guests,
Dear comrades.

We have come to your village, your region, to help highlight how hard your life is. Getting enough water, firewood, food is a daily battle. On top of that you have experienced an unrelenting drought. Seed for planting is in short supply. Cattle have died. Rivers have dried up.

Recently, and it would seem for the first time, South African television has shown pictures as horrific as those regularly flashed on our screens of Somalia or Ethiopia. Emaciated children, youngsters too weak to concentrate - and this in a land that exports food and drought relief.

It is scandalous and cannot be allowed to continue.

While we accept that there has been prolonged drought in many parts of South Africa - and fortunately rain has begun to fall - the problems that afflict our communities, particularly all who live in rural areas, are not a result of drought. The root of the problem lies in the decades of apartheid.

We have been forced off the fertile land that once was ours. We have been forced to accept homeland administrations, many of whom have been manipulated and controlled from Pretoria. Now we are told that more land is being transferred (given) to some of these homelands, including Lebowa. Certain chiefs will be given land while others were not even consulted. Meanwhile the majority of rural people remain landless and poor.

Vast sums of money have been used to build parliaments in the veld, casinos and pleasure resorts for white South Africans. Very little of that money was used to build roads, dams, irrigation systems, boreholes, schools or to provide electricity.

Grave responsibilities rest on our shoulders. The immediate task facing us is to ensure that no one experiences famine in the midst of plenty. The millions provided for drought relief must reach the people. Drought relief cannot be used for party political purposes. It must not be used to strengthen the National Party, or to increase the hold farmers have over their workers. Nor must it be used to feed bloated bureaucracies instead of the people.

We will do everything we can to ensure that this region in particular, which has been hard-hit for so long, obtains the kind of drought relief programme that will help build for the future. We must also ensure an end to any form of abuse or corruption around drought aid.

The ANC sees its responsibility to you and future generations as being one of bringing peace and democracy to South Africa. People only grow and become productive in an atmosphere that provides for their well being. We are determined to provide such an atmosphere.

And top of the agenda is to bring peace to our land, to end the war that is waged, directly and indirectly, against the people.

The ANC initiated and committed itself to create and work within the National Peace Accord in an effort to bring about peace. We have met, and continue to meet, all leaders in our country. We met with Heads of State and the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the Organisation of African Unity to ensure that international monitors were stationed in South Africa to help stop the killings.

We regard the ending of violence as critically important. Any loss of life is a tragedy. For too long the lives of black people have been regarded as cheap. We want to ensure that the life of every human being, black or white, man or woman, is recognised as being precious.

We know that one of the main purposes of the violence is to make democratic elections impossible. But we are determined to ensure that the first ever South African one-person, one vote elections are held. Such elections, where every man and woman, irrespective of colour, who is 18 years and over can vote for the organisation and representative of their choice, must be for a parliament that will draw up a new constitution.

This will be the first democratic constitution for South Africa. It must restore to all our people their pride, their rights.

We want a framework for our country that guarantees the future, with a Bill of Rights, an independent judiciary, an army and police force that know they are there to serve the people, the land, not hound or persecute them. The ANC has developed policies on health, education, economics, the environment, science, technology and housing that are designed to address the historical injustice black South Africa has experienced and lay firm foundations for a prosperous future.

Many governments and international investors want to contribute to the reconstruction of South Africa. But they will only do so when elections have been held that brings about an Interim Government of National Unity. They, too, know that democracy is the only answer for this country.

Decisive and bold leadership is required from all South Africans to steer us through the transition. It is precisely to end the suffering of our people that we are engaged in negotiations with the De Clerk regime. An extensive meeting begins tomorrow, where we are determined to achieve results. And we want to emerge from that meeting with a firm election date.

To build this future requires undoing past injustices. It has been that the homelands, both independent and self-governing, will be reincorporated into South Africa. And this should go together with the development of strong regions, so that we can do away with the massive imbalances that exist between urban and rural areas.

These are, in brief, the challenges that face us. It therefore gives me great pleasure to be part of this sod-turning ceremony to set in construction of a dam. Freedom will be hollow if it does not bring with it a better life for all who have been most deprived.

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 10/11/06 by Helen Joannides




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