Item 1250 - Opening Address by President Nelson Mandela at the Defence Exposition of South Africa (DEXSA 94)

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ZA COM MR-S-1250


Opening Address by President Nelson Mandela at the Defence Exposition of South Africa (DEXSA 94)


  • 1994-11-22 (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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Honourable Ministers;
Chiefs of the Defence Force;
Colleagues from Cabinet;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

On display here are products of human labour and ingenuity of world standard, which can be used to secure peace and security or misused to sow fearful death and destruction. We have a unique opportunity to help ensure that peaceful purposes are served by the defence industry.

The Defence Exposition of South Africa occurs at a time when South Africa has at last become a democracy, and when the world stands at the brink of a new world order bringing with it the promise of justice, peace and prosperity for all.

By 1987 world military expenditure had reached the staggering figure of one trillion dollars. With the end of the Cold War, there has been a decline. The world can now look forward to more rational levels of expenditure on defence. Such expenditure should no longer be driven by the aims of ideological hegemony, nor by the desire for any kind of domination, but by the conventional requirements of individual countries.

With the first democratic elections in this country, South Africa was accepted into the international community and took its place alongside all the responsible nations of the world.

Our position has meant greater access to world markets for our goods. This poses a particular challenge for our defence industry, given the past in which it developed. Our morality as a democratic government dictates that we have to act in accordance with internationally accepted norms and standards. We are obliged to further world peace and security.

The new international milieu is underpinned by a movement away from mutual deterrence to mutual reassurance. The emphasis falls on co-operative security based on binding commitments limiting military capabilities and actions. The new relationship presupposes openness, transparency and predictability.

No longer seeking to oppress most of its people, at peace with its neighbours and accepted in the international community, South Africa is forging a defence industry which is guided by new priorities and a new ethos. It needs to act on the basis of decision-making that is open and accountable.

The lifting of the arms embargo on May 25, 1994 meant that there was no reason for the South African defence industry to operate under a cloak of secrecy. Any other approach, even if it involved one or two individuals, would be contrary to government policy and, in the long run, detrimental to the armaments industry itself.

I am pleased to note that the Armaments Corporation of South Africa is committed to transparency and accountability. This is a challenge facing all South Africans, both in the public and the private sectors. Amongst other things, the Government-appointed Cameron Commission of Inquiry will make an important contribution to these objectives, and speed up the process
of ensuring that our arms industry achieves full domestic and international legitimacy .

This Defence Exhibition will show, to South Africans and to those from other countries, the full range and capabilities of the South African defence industry. The quality of the products, the skill and technological achievement will be apparent, and so will the commitment to innovation. On view here are the industry's peacekeeping capabilities, as well as systems for defence purposes.

In mounting the exposition, and in our approach to the sale of arms, we are resolved to act responsibly. Arms are for the purpose of defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a country; not to undermine any considerations of humanity nor to suppress legitimate aspirations of any community.

Our government is committed to observing and furthering international efforts at non-proliferation and arms control. It will take part in various non-proliferation regimes and supplier groups to promote international peace and security. To this end, the South African Government has signed a number of international conventions relating to nuclear proliferation, chemical, biological and designated conventional weapons. It will soon be joining the Missile Technology Control Regime.

Also on display are products of efforts to convert military technology to civilian use. Wherever it has been attempted on any large scale, this process has proved difficult. Nevertheless, we believe South Africa can make an important contribution - indeed we have an obligation - to ensure that advanced technology acquired in the arms industry is fully utilised in reconstruction and development: in improving the quality of life of the people.

The international community is committed to assist this process. Not in the form of handouts; but through investment, trade and other mutually-beneficial relations. We are aware that such co-operation will not answer all our needs, but it can make a critical contribution to the economic growth which is an essential condition for the success of our programme. It will help to consolidate our democracy.

I take pleasure in declaring this Defence Exposition of South Africa open; and in welcoming all the participants, especially our guests from abroad. I wish the Defence Ministry, Armscor and the defence industry as a whole, every success in your endeavours.

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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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