Item 1306 - Address by President Nelson Mandela at a meeting of the Voters of Ward 41

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ZA COM MR-S-1306


Address by President Nelson Mandela at a meeting of the Voters of Ward 41


  • 1996-05-26 (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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This is a very special occasion for me.

In three days time I shall vote, for the first time, in a local election in my own Ward. And I shall vote for a local candidate, close to where I live, in one of the local schools.

Maybe this is the moment to ponder how I ended up here, in front of you today. From Qunu to Soweto and Johannesburg to Robben Island, Pollsmoor and Victor Verster ... to the Baxter Theatre in Rondebosch.

I believe that I took this journey and ended up in this place because, like Martin Luther King, and like so many of our brother and sister South Africans ... I had a dream. A dream of a country which would finally recognise that our colour was no longer important, only our humanity. That, however high the cost, and however long the struggle, we would, if we held onto he dream, eventually prevail.

And like so many of my brothers and sisters from the black, the coloured, the Indian and the white communities ... I never stopped dreaming that dream. And at last, standing here, preparing to vote in my first local election, I know that we did not dream in vain.

As I stand before you today - no longer a little shoeless boy from Qunu, no longer a faceless man forced to carry a pass, no longer a revolutionary on the run and no longer a prisoner - I do so as a member of that great humanity; that wonderful rainbow nation we call South Africa.

The world says to us in South Africa that we have created a miracle, that we have made history. And, in the eyes of the world, we have indeed done that. But what is more important to me is the miracle we have created in our own hearts and minds. All the personal, individual miracles we have seen, felt and experienced over the last few years.

There cannot be one of you in this audience who has not been touched by these times. For many it has been a time of great joy. For others a time of personal change and self-realisation. And although we must acknowledge that for some it has been a time of trepidation or even fear, we are all, in our own ways, learning that there is little to fear and much to hope in this great nation of ours. For we, amongst all the people in the world, have shown that peace can be achieved, that harmony can be attained and that unity and reconciliation can be won.

We, have while giving this country of ours a second chance, shown the world outside that they too have a chance. We have given them the gift we have given ourselves ... the gift of hope.

This province, famous for its spectacular beauty, its fine traditions and the rich diversity of its people, will in just three days time be given an opportunity to embrace the democratic ideal. In November, the rest of the country demonstrated its confidence in the ANC by returning an even greater majority. Minority groups who voted against us in fear in 1994 have turned in increasing numbers towards the ANC. Now it is our turn, here in the Western Cape, to reject the racism and swart gevaar of the past and embrace the principles and ideals of the future. Now it is our turn to vote, not against what we fear, but for what we hope.

I believe there are two very good practical reasons why we should be thinking about voting ANC on Wednesday. The first is because of our policies. And the second is because of the fine upstanding people who will be standing as our candidates.

We in the ANC have always said that we have a plan. And that plan has, during the first two years of democratic government, taken shape in policies and programmes that have begun to build a better life for all South Africans.

For the first time in many years, we have a positive growth rate in South Africa. The economy is growing at the fastest rate in the last 10 years. Inflation is at its lowest level in 20 years. We have rejoined the family of nations. And, against that backdrop, we have begun, on many levels, to deliver to those who have, for so long, been sick with the terrible disease of poverty.

We have begun, I say, and we shall continue. But there is much to be done and much to undo - and it will take time, effort and patience.

But, despite the heavy realisation of how much remains to be done, we must pride ourselves that we have achieved a great deal in only two years. Great things like a new Constitution for our country, brokered and delivered to the people as a testament of faith in our shared future. And what may perhaps seem to be little things like new clinics, free primary health care, assessors in our magistrates courts building bridges between the people and the justice system, community policing and many many more changes that will eventually transform the face of our society.

This is why I say that we must be careful, when we talk about voting for strong opposition, to be clear what it is we oppose. Surely our opposition at this time of building, reconstructing and renewing our society must be to what is unjust, what is backward thinking, what is small and unworthy. And surely our support must go to what is forward thinking, positive and contributes to a better life for all.

The second reason why I believe we should vote ANC in this election is, as I have said, because of the candidates who are standing in this election. I have five candidates here with me on this platform, all fine people and one of whom shared the dock with me many, many years ago at the Treason Trial.

With me also today is Revel Fox, the candidate for Ward 41 in which you and I live. The candidate who will, if he wins, represent me and you and whom we may all have occasion to wake up in the middle of the night when we have a problem we need solving.

There is a great symbolic significance for me in a man like Fox standing for the ANC. Not a person who would normally have considered political life, he is standing because he has responded to the call we have made - the call for men and women to stand up and unite as non-racist, non-sexist and freedom loving South Africans. He is standing, like many of our other white, coloured and Indian candidates, because he believes that this must be our future and that it is a future worth working for.

When I vote on Wednesday, I will vote for a party and I will vote for a man. I will vote for the ANC and I will vote for Revel Fox. And it would give me great personal pleasure if you would do the same. If we could, here, where you and I both live, set the example and in our own small way make history by winning the first predominantly white ward for the ANC.

I make this call partially for selfish reasons. Because I must in honesty admit what immense gratification it would give me to see real and tangible support for the ANC and its ideals in this community.

But I make this call also as a matter of national urgency. I make it because we have a great deal of work to do together over the next few years. And, in order to do that work, we need to share our skills and our ideas. We need to talk to each other and listen to each other. And we need to contribute, each in our own way, to the great task of building our nation.

And finally because the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts, we must never stop dreaming the dream that brought us here today. The dream that, in the words of dreamers who gathered at Kliptown nearly half a century ago, told us that "South Africa belongs to all who live in it - black and white".

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 26/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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