Item 1244 - Notes for President Nelson Mandela's Opening Address at the ANC Natal Provincial Conference

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ZA COM MR-S-1244

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Notes for President Nelson Mandela's Opening Address at the ANC Natal Provincial Conference

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  • 1994-12-03 (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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TRANSCRIPT

Few events in the life of an organisation have the potential of impacting decisively on its future. This Conference of the KwaZulu-Natal Province of the ANC belongs in that category. I am convinced that the history of the ANC in this Province will be written with this conference as the pivotal frame of reference.

I am therefore delighted to be here among friends, colleagues and comrades as we chart the way for the future of this Province.

People of KwaZulu-Natal want a better life for all. They deserve peace and justice. Whatever the formal figures emerging from the April elections, the reality is that all these aspirations can only be fully realised if the ANC leads. We are the custodian of transformation in each and every part of South Africa. And I am confident that we shall emerge from this conference ready to play our role with even more vigour.

I have visited Natal on countless occasions, over the years. None of those visits will remain as deeply embedded in my heart as when I was able, for the first time in my life, to cast my vote, as a free citizen of our great country. That vote, and those of millions of other South Africans, drew the line between the past and the future.

The African National Congress leads the Government of National Unity, a government which exercises power and responsibility over each and every part of South Africa.

But we dare not underplay the implications of our defeat in the Provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, for our programme to meet the aspirations of the people. At the same time, we should not exaggerate them.

With regard to KwaZulu-Natal in particular, the disciples of violence and chauvinism had sought to make elections in this Province impossible; even to the extent of contemplating secession from the rest of the country. Those dreams were shattered by history, and they are buried forever.

Despite the difficult conditions created by the apartheid government and its off-shoots, we were able to mobilise over a million citizens to cast their vote for the ANC. We won decisively in the urban areas. Indeed, had the electoral structures and the security forces been more effective and willing to deal with the problems, the picture would have been markedly different today.

But it would be wrong to lay the blame entirely on others. We should acknowledge that our organisation and electoral machinery were not strong enough; we did not pay sufficient attention to the rural areas; we did not always display the required unity of purpose sometimes at leadership level; we failed to develop strategies to reach out to the Coloured and Indian communities.

It is the task of this Conference to rectify these weaknesses. This is not only for purposes of winning future elections. It is, above all, to ensure that, as ANC, we fulfil our historic mission of transforming South African society.

Our experience over the past few months has shown very clearly that the RDP cannot be fully implemented without legitimate, democratic local government structures. Everywhere, and especially in Natal and the Western Cape, we must leave no stone unturned to ensure that, next October, candidates committed to creating a better life for all, are elected into these crucial positions.

The ANC owes it to the homeless, the illiterate, the landless - indeed the majority of South Africans - to ensure that it wins these elections decisively. We are the driving force of the RDP; because we know where it comes from; why it is needed; and how it should be carried out.

Mobilisation for reconstruction and development also means defeating the twin evils of crime and violence. While it is true that the level of political violence has been drastically reduced, this Province continues to suffer from this scourge. Government has a central role to play in dealing with this, including cleansing security forces of any criminals. The ANC must be in the forefront of community efforts to bring to book murderers, drug barons, car-hijackers, rapists and thieves.

We are best equipped to ensure that peace prevails in KwaZulu-Natal: because we know too well that without peace, there cannot be creation of jobs, building of houses, investments and proper education.

Democracy has, for the first time in more than a century, restored the dignity of our traditional leaders. No longer shall it be that they are treated as appendages of a white minority government or its Bantustans. No longer should it be that decisions about them and their communities are taken without their participation. No longer should it be that they are used as tools of political parties.

We call on our traditional leaders to seize this opportunity with both hands. Now is the time for them to take their rightful position and unite communities in the effort to build a better life. Freed of apartheid chains, they can play a critical role in the Reconstruction and Development Programme.

The ANC unequivocally supports the initiative for peace and unity by His Majesty, King Goodwill Zwelethini. We hope that this initiative will help restore traditional structures to their respected, non-partisan role. This includes an approach - in setting up a House of Traditional Leaders - which unites and promotes community interests, not those of individuals or political parties.

On the issue of so-called "international mediation" which has been raised from time to time, the point needs to be made that there is a distinction between a real need and fulfilling a commitment. I wish to state unequivocally that the ANC has never breached and will never breach agreements it reaches with anyone. We will arrange meetings with relevant parties to examine the need or otherwise of such mediation.

However, no party can sensibly claim to represent any King or Kingdom. Nor should anyone be allowed to start creating problems where none exist.

The eyes of the people are focused on this Conference. They expect from you leadership in effecting real change. Their lives literally depend on this. They expect from you a united voice that is able to give direction in the complex times in which we live. Their future depends on this. They expect from this Conference, decisions that will reinforce the ANC at all levels, including our 49th National Conference.

When we leave from here, it should be with a new vigour to revive ANC branches and to establish the new regions, sub-regions and zones. We must emerge with a clear programme to deepen and widen the pool of cadres through systematic education in the policies and traditions of the ANC.

We should do all this, and more, as one ANC, operating on all fronts as a united organisation.

After decades of resistance, the ANC is now at the helm, with unprecedented possibilities to realise the loftiest of our people's dreams. History has placed on the shoulders of our generation an onerous task, We have it in our power to create a just and prosperous nation.


I formally declare this Conference of the Natal Province of the ANC open.

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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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