Item 1364 - Speech by Nelson Mandela about the First Democratic Elections

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ZA COM MR-S-1364


Speech by Nelson Mandela about the First Democratic Elections


  • 1993-09-16 (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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Dear Compatriots,

In a little over seven months from now millions of South Africans shall be going to the polls to vote into power the party of their choice. This will be the first time that we, as fellow citizens, shall be able to exercise a fundamental and an inalienable human right hitherto the exclusive preserve of a white minority. April 27,1994, shall indeed mark the beginning of a. new era in our country - a historic turning point in the turbulent history of South Africa - when the system of racial oppression and tyranny is to be consigned, once and for all, to the refuse bin of history and replaced by a just, humane, democratic, non-racial and an equitable social, political and economic order.

The ANC is convinced that April 1994 shall usher in a period of positive and basic changes in our lives when, as free and fellow citizens, we shall be shedding the burden of the past and embark on an exciting venture that will translate into reality our long-cherished and suppressed objectives of peace, freedom, prosperity and justice for all. No longer shall a small minority determine the destiny of an overwhelming majority. The right to vote and be voted into parliament and all councils of the state, arguably the most important constitutional right, shall be a cornerstone of our new constitution - to be enshrined as an inviolable and an inalienable human right and not to be tampered with by any government or political party.

Dear friends, we are on the threshold of a new and an exciting period - a moment in time which, in the words of the great Jawaharlal Nehru, comes but rarely in the life of a nation - a moment when the old gives way to the new, when long-cherished aspirations find utterance and when we have to look to the future with hope and confidence.

To have arrived at this watershed, however, has not been plain sailing. Thousands and millions of our people, - African, Indian, Coloured and democratic Whites - have made great sacrifices and contributed enormously towards its realisation. Young and old, male and female, fought and struggled relentlessly for decades and generations against one of the most brutal and inhuman social and political systems of our time. Many made the supreme sacrifice, were tortured and served unconscionably long terms of incarceration under inhuman and brutal conditions for daring to oppose a pernicious system declared by the international community as a "crime against humanity. "

Dear friends, to ensure that this important moment in our lives is not frittered away, that the dreams and aspirations of our people for a better and more fruitful existence are realised soon, that decent housing, good and affordable health care, employment and proper educational facilities become realisable objectives, for these and other objectives the African National Congress calls upon all peace - and freedom-loving South Africans to prepare themselves for the final onslaught against the apartheid system. We have many battles - peaceful ones - still to be fought before the deep-seated aspirations of our people are translated into reality, a vibrant economy emerges, social ills meaningfully addressed and international (and national) confidence restored in our ability to govern ourselves as a free people.

The General Elections should be viewed as but the continuation of a long struggle against injustice and inequality - a mere pause, albeit a most important one - in our unfinished business to bring peace, freedom and prosperity to all our peoples.

There is no time for complacency. We have to win the election battle decisively and convincingly if we are to make a meaningful contribution in realising the high expectations of the millions of our fellow citizens.

There is still much to be done. Though the dark days of racial tyranny and oppression are coming to an end, the days of the midnight knock, detention without trial and mysterious deaths and disappearances of friends,
comrades and loved ones are no longer the order of the day; whilst forced removals of settled communities and intimidatory visits by government officials in terms of the notorious Group Areas Act no longer haunt us, the truth of the matter is that we are not yet a free people. We are still enslaved in may respects. Our duty and responsibility is to break the remaining shackles that bind us so that we walk our beloved country tall and free, with pride and confidence.

The Indian community, over the years, played a glorious role and made a magnificent contribution in our freedom struggle. In the common endeavour to overcome racial injustice, prejudice and oppression the names of Yusuf Dadoo, Monty Naicker, Molvi Cachalia, Ismail Meer, Ahmed Kathrada, Chota Motala, Debbi Singh, R.D, Naidoo, Billy Nair, Dawood Seedat, Roy (T.N.) Naidoo, to name but a few, stand out as shining examples of courage, dedication and devotion to duty and the cause of human emancipation and dignity. We dare not forget those brave and courageous sons of our soil who died in detention or on the battle-field Babla Saloojee, Hoosein Haffejee, Ahmed Timol, Lenny Naidoo, Krishna Rabilall, Sadhan Naidoo, Yusuf Akhalwaya, Prakash Napier - as martyrs of our people. They died so that we may live.

Fellow countrymen and women, as we walk the last mile towards the realisation of our cherished objective, and as we prepare ourselves to make our choice on the ballot paper, let us pause for a moment and remember those of our people who, through hard work, dedication, courage, sacrifice and commitment to a common ideal, have made it possible for us to be where we are today - on the very threshold of a new, better and brighter South Africa.

Let us bear in mind that many of our noblest sons and daughters shall not be with us to share this great moment in our lives - a moment for which they spent a life time to attain. They fought with courage and tenacity and believed passionately, as no doubt we all do, in the creation of a society where, in the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," people shall be judged not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character."

Let us march together, under the banner of the ANC, and build the brave new country of our dreams - a free, non-racial, democratic, and prosperous South Africa.

With warm fraternal greetings and best wishes.

Amandla! Maatla!!

Yours sincerely


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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 29/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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