Item 1335 - Cde President Nelson Mandela Address

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ZA COM MR-S-1335


Cde President Nelson Mandela Address


  • 1990-01-01 - 1999-12-31 (c1990s)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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  • English

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Your Excellency and friends I have gone through many very harsh experiences in my life some of which I went through with your support. And after one Particularly shattering experience the other day I felt encouraged after reading the opinions of potential voters in the forthcoming elections. And I was even more pleased 'when I read the very last page because one of the potential voters had written: Mandela is very old and tired he should now retire and take up preaching.

Ladies and gentleman you are about to hear a sermon.

I was very heartened and grateful for the remarks made by the Secretary General. It is sentiments of this nature that has enabled us to carry on both in exile inside the country and in prison. It is such support that enables me to face many challenges. We are now facing one of the greatest challenges in our lives Perhaps the most challenging experience since the establishment of the ANC.

It is taken for granted in opinion polls that if an election was held to day the ANC would probably emerge with an outright majority, and these opinions are based on the large numbers of People who attend our meetings. But I want to warn that any complacency on the part of any structure of the ANC can have fatal consequences for our country. We cannot destroy the hopes of our people and we cannot let down the People abroad who have faith in the ANC. Leaders of the ANC are so highly respected that in numerous cases they given treatment reserved for heads of state. But we cannot be complacent we have to make sure that victory is ours on April 27. Some well known analyst once said that a person who does what others can do is a normal person, a person who does what many others cannot do is exceptional, but a person who does what all others cannot do is a genius and national asset. That is what is required today by those who want to mobilise the masses in the country to secure a decisive victory in the forthcoming elections. Victory will not simply come to us because of the predictions of opinion polls, or even because of some of the exceptional experiences many of us have endured. No, only hard work will achieve victory.

We have to stop travelling out of our region, going abroad and receiving accolades. We have to run a house to house campaign, visiting each house twice even thrice if we can, to find out the aspirations and attitudes of the people in those houses only if we do that will the accolades we have receive have any meaning. We are having elections on April the 27. It will be one of the more historical moments in our country. There are going to be about 22 million voters and 18 to 19 million will be voting for the first time. About five million voters are spread out in the countryside: Where there are no communications no telephones no electricity no running water. Many of the people in those areas do not know why they have to vote. And when you do tell them why they have to vote they do not know how to do so. We are going to require a large number of people to brief these People about elections.

I have travelled around all our regions and I can assure you that there is tremendous goodwill for South Africa. One of the most difficult things we have to do is to coordinate the offers of assistance that have been made by Practically every country, every organisation and even individual citizens of these countries to send teams of People to help us prepare for the elections. We know there has to be some measure of co-ordination to avoid duplication. In view of the numerous offers we have set up our machinery to make maximum use of them.

We must win this most important election, because it is not lust an ordinary election it is first democratic election in the history of our country. This election means that for the first time the majority of the People in our country will take a decision that will enable them to take their lives in their own hands and be architects of their own destiny. In this regard we need all the institutions of civil society. We need religious leaders of all faiths we need academicians, organisations, students, workers and business people.

There are many complaints against commerce and industry. The high level of unemployment is unacceptable, retrenchments are taking place every day. But we are committed to the masses of our people, they are our top priority. we want them to have jobs, to have houses, to have foods, to have adequate medical care. But In spite of our criticism and briefing inflationary practices continue. However I can confidently say all those involved in commerce and industry that I have addressed are fully supportive of change. That is a very important change of attitude that is crucial to reconstruction. Because they have the resources. Winning the election will mean getting every voter from his place of work or home to the voting station, but that is going to take massive resources.

We are facing parties which are wealthy, we are facing the National Party which in spite of all its lack of political capability, its corruption, its continuing covert operations - making an undertaking today and reneging on it tomorrow. Yes in spite of the fact that it is common knowledge that we are the organisation of the future and they are an organisation without a past. In spite of all that and because they have been able to fight at least 14 general elections they have built up a lot of capacity a lot of experience and electioneering skills. So they can manoeuvre in and out of alliances. Right now the National Party wants to create an anti--ANC front with the help of the ANC.

The National Party have lost all of their old allies the Bantustan leaders almost everyone one of them have deserted the NP. Now the NP are desperately trying to revive that alliance that is why Pik Botha says without shame that there can be no election in this country if the CP and IFP are not included. I have thought that over these past 48 years the National Party would have learned something about the people of South Africa. And that is we brought the National Party to its knees, we forced them to go to the negotiation table to ensure that minority rule will never return to this country. Let there be no mistake the election of the 27 April will take place with or without all those other parties. And we must warn the National Party itself that this election is going to take place with or without them.

When Mr De Klerk raised this major opposition I was in London I immediately telephoned him after I had been briefed by the Secretary General Mr Cyril Ramaphosa and I asked Mr De Klerk what exactly this proposal about a referendum meant. I said I was not really prepared to raise this matter with my organisation unless he could give me a guarantee on this issue. I told him this creation of apartheid this so- called Freedom Affiance will respect the results of April 27, secondly I told him I want you to show me that if a referendum is held that they will be free not only in the greater part of South Africa but also in all the Bantustans including BOP and Ciskei.

How can any political party expect the NP and those Bantustans who have been funded with our own taxpayers money to pay for this referendum. Hardly any organisation I said to him do you undertake to pay for the cost for the referendum. Can you give me an assurance that all political parties will take part. He could not. So the referendum is completely out. He is going to retreat. One of the things that have damaged the National Party is that they took a Public position without having heavily considered the implications of the issues. Now they have been forced by the democratic forces to retreat.

So I warned him to think very carefully about the public position he takes an any other issue because I said "we can mobilise people against you". But we want your party in particular to mobilise whites to come back into the negotiations process. When you insist on taking positions that are completely untenable you can never resist then reassure of the demo forces in this county so you must refrain from taking action when you have not considered its full implications.

I have already said that business can play a very important role in ensuring that the democratic forces win this country. We know business has been supporting apartheid and have become very wealthy as a result of that. But because many of them have developed a social conscious even in the bad days organisations like the Urban Foundation made a special contribution in raising the living standards of our people. That is something we must keep in mind because business can play an important role in making sure the democratic forces win. We are not saying that they must join the ANC. But what we want in this country is to have a democratic government and to be able to build our country because we want to unite South Africa.

The ANC have made the issue of nation building a top priority and there is no other party that has concentrated on addressing the needs and aspiration of all South Africans so long and so vigorously. In the Freedom Charter which was published in 1955 we made it clear that South Africa belongs to all its people and that was when the National Party were accusing us of treason and denying the majority of our People basic human rights. And we made this fundamental proposition that all South Africans are equal that all South Africans should enjoy the right to vote, that there should be a Bill of Rights, that all people should enjoy the right to own Property and land, we even tackled the religious question. And before all else we called for a non- racial, and non-sexist constitution, we called for an independent judiciary and independent and regular elections.

We believe in proportional representation. We say that every party that gets more than five percent of the vote in the April 27 elections will be invited to serve in government that is our vision of a future South Africa. That is what the leadership of the ANC wants and believes in. When one moves to transformation from a dispensation when a white minority population have dominated the political decisions of the country in a country where the overwhelming majority of the country is black we know this may raise fears among those who have enjoyed this special Position. Now whites are thinking when these changes come what is going to happen to my wife, to my husband to my children when the values I have known all my life change. And I am saving to them on the basis of our policy there is no need to have these fears. Assuming that we will win the forthcoming elections with an outright majority can we believe that if violence breaks out we are strong enough to address that violence. Violence breaks out today because it pays the National Party to see violence breaking out among blacks. As comrades we should be able to address violence. But after all that, we know that the democratic forces in this country are strong enough to crush that violence but we want to prevent violence. We are committed to peace and that is where the perspective of a government of national unity comes from, it comes from our commitment to Peace.

What we have in mind is that the new government will consist of people such as even Gen Viljoen Dr Ferdi Harzenberg, Mr De Klerk, Dr Clarence Makwethu, Dr Ithumuleng Mosaic' of Azapo and Chief Buthelezi. We intend to bring all these leaders together so that before members of the public read it they should be able to see from the composition of the Government of National Unity that is has a Popular base it has legitimacy that it represents all our people. That is the meaning of a Government of National Party.

So why would anyone in that situation want to have his own separate homeland. This country has existed as a united country since 1910. Nobody ever spoke about each ethnic group having its own country now we hear people who want separate homelands. Perhaps because the challenge today comes from masses who have been oppressed all these years. We would like to appeal to everyone and we would like business to use their influence so that the democratic forces in this country are supported. Many people are saying that if we do not address the demands of the so-called FA then they will be violence. Nobody is going to make us make any concessions. We have come out in favour of a strong local and regional government, so that every region will have the right to make its own laws, to control education except tertiary education, to control health housing, town planning, the supply of water and electricity and the environment. And those who say they want a federal state let them tell us what more powers they want and they have not been able to spell out what they want. We want these issues to be discussed now because when we win we will take that decision. What is surprising is how the white Press controlled by whites and run by them they continue to say we should we they are openly saying they cannot allow issues to be settled by the people to make the compromise. To postpone the elections means to prolong the suffering of our people. Let us accept there will be violence from the rightwing and their black surrogates but with that will be a pity but compared with the violence that will erupt if elections are Postponed that will be small. Unemployment housing needs to be addressed.

[Speaking in Afrikaans]

I have travelled abroad and everywhere I have been asked the leadership come and invest in our country because peace without resources is impossible. When someone is hungry you cannot bring about peace. Hunger is a bad political adversary and when you have masses of the People hungry every day not knowing where they will get their next meal we will not have a democratic society that is why we need the cooperation of business both inside and outside SA. The response to our appeal has been swift because only 15 minutes after I had made that request to the UN, states, and cities all over the world began to respond. It was a very historical move when American Government again within 15 minutes of my UN speech providing for the lifting of sanctions and the Commonwealth did the same thing on the same day and the President of Zimbabwe and President of then we asked the United States to send a to delegation to our country so between the 9 -12 November they will be arriving then we invited a visit from the President of the French Commerce and Industry to come and inspect the investment opportunities.

We have therefore this wonderful support if this violence continues if we do not neutralise and South African including business does not speak with one voice on the Question of peace. Our country is in deep recession and with all the related socio-economic problems we have become the most violence society through the world today. But this is a challenge but that is why we want you today men and women who can do what no other Person can do. I am convinced that everyone of you has the potential but only if you try and get down from the fence and get involved in the new South Africa.

The peace process is important and each organisation must stop Putting the blame on each other and put their own houses in order, The culture of political tolerance must be fostered we do not want our people to be involved in violence that is what apartheid is doing. Even though we understand why our young People are sometimes getting involved in violence because they have lost their families through violence. But Mr De Klerk can stop this violence if he wants to but because it is taking Place among black people and the Nationalist Party has never cared about the lives of black people so we cannot expect them to start now.

Then there is the incident in the Transkei in which blacks were mercilessly gunned down including school children even after all the evidence is out they still try to justify their actions. But we have a duty to our youth who do not tarnish the image of the ANC they are in fact the face of the ANC. The fact that our young people are so impatient will not give other political parties the right to meet in the townships is understandable.

But we can win this election without violence. So we appeal to all our people act now as we must after the April 27 elections because we are ready to govern. Our young people have become so used to resistance that they resist even when we are making progress. I am appealing to South Africans who have skills and expertise to return to their country and to share their experience. We must all unite and build a new nation together. A notion of peace.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 27/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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