Item 1366 - Statement of the President of the ANC Nelson Mandela at the Conference on " Institutional Investment in Post- Apartheid South Afica"

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ZA COM MR-S-1366


Statement of the President of the ANC Nelson Mandela at the Conference on " Institutional Investment in Post- Apartheid South Afica"


  • 1993-10-01 (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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Friends, ladies and gentlemen:

I would like to thank you most sincerely for enabling us to attend this important and timely conference.

We are truly glad to see so many people present here this morning. We take this is a signal that you are indeed interested in the future of our country, South Africa, and are willing to enter into a mutually beneficial partnership with us.

Meeting as we do in the aftermath of the lifting of economic sanctions against South Africa, the conference affords all of us the opportunity to discuss in as practical a manner as possible the investment possibilities in our country.

The question of South Africa has been on the international agenda for many years now. What brought it onto that agenda was the policy of apartheid.

It can truly be said that since the Second World War, there have been very few issues which have united the peoples of the world as did the struggle to abolish the system of apartheid.

The reason for this is simple. All humanity united to express its hostility and opposition to institutionalised and systemic racism.

This racism meant that to be black was to be labelled and treated as sub-human. To be black meant that you had to be ruled over by another, who had appropriated to himself or herself the title of a civilised person with a civilizing mission.

To be black meant you had the right to live only so long as you had the strength and the will to minister to the needs of these, who had elected to impose themselves on others as the chosen of God, using the gun, the whip and the baton.

To be black meant to die of hunger, to be exposed to the elements in your nakedness, to be ravaged by disease without any attempt to cure.

Those who dared to stand up, to say that all humanity demanded an end to the gross obscenity, had to accept that they would be shot down, or hanged, or tortured by cold-blooded specialists in that evil trade, or blown up by experts in the art of murder, or locked into punitive prison cells, or banished into the arid deserts or driven into foreign lands to wander as homeless refugees.

The peoples of Southern Africa also committed a sin by saying the injury done the people of South Africa was an injury done to themselves as well.

For that terrible assertion of the common destiny of all humanity and the indivisibility of human dignity, the peoples of our region had to give up the lives of very many and to watch as their sources of livelihood were burnt and destroyed by an enraged bull which knew in its very bones that it was master of all it surveyed.

Angola continue to bleed to this day because apartheid wanted Angola to bleed. Mozambique is taking its tentative steps to peace only now, because apartheid wanted Mozambique to devour herself in the furnace of war.

Weapons that should be in the hands of soldiers are today the deadly possession of common criminals who rape, rob, plunder and murder with the impunity given to them by the fact that they have inherited weapons of death that littered our region because apartheid wanted people to die so that apartheid could live.

But in spite of everything that was done by those who acted in defence of injustice and barbarism - to kill, to bribe, to terrorise, to lie - nothing could take away even from the hearts of small babes the feeling and the knowledge to demean and brutalise another was to demean and brutalise all humanity.

The world could not but act against this demented tyranny.

After all, as the party of apartheid won power in South Africa in 1948, the world was still recovering from the brutal terrorism, the horrendous campaigns of genocide and the terrible material damage that became the hallmarks which characterised German Nazism.

It therefore could not be that the world would, for all time, ignore the fact of the establishment of a political, economic and social system in South Africa which was modelled on the same Nazism, with its notions of racial supremacy and contempt for people considered not to be part of a so-called master race.

In the end and through the adoption of an International Convention, apartheid was categorised as a Crime against Humanity, the first and only such determination after Nazism was itself declared to be such a crime.

As we all know, the world's revulsion at the apartheid crime against humanity in the end led to a vigorous campaign to isolate this cancer and to extend assistance to the millions of our people and their organisations that were the frontline combatants in the struggle to defend the very concept of a common and a shared humanity.

We are moved and restored in our humanity by the fact that the people of this country stood up and said - no to apartheid!

We are grateful for the enormous contribution you made to ensure that the brutal racist project in our country was would up as soon as possible.

We are moved and restored in our humanity by the fact that the peoples of the world stood up and said - no to the apartheid crime against humanity!

We owe an unpayable debt to the billions who eat and breathe and walk and sleep and are human as we are and who, because of that, took it as their task to help us liquidate the arrogant system of racism in our country.

All humanity will have incontestable cause to celebrate together when, at last, all the people of South Africa can join together to say - at last we are free of the indignity and the insult of being the oppressed; at last we are free of the curse of being the oppressor!

We are on the eve of our common victory over the anti-human system of apartheid.

That victory will not be a mere victory over a particular cabal that sat in darkness and designed a scheme which plunged our country into darkness.

It will be a victory over a system whose essence was the denial of the humanity of all living beings, regardless of their race or colour.

That we are where we are today on the road to a free and non-racial South Africa is an affirmation that human solidarity, extending beyond the boundaries of countries, continents, gender, race, colour and creed, is an all-conquering motive force, whose victories over those who seek to subtract from our common humanity cannot be denied.

We believe that our own history has given us the wisdom to know that none of us has the right and no system we create should ever be predicated on the denial of the rights of any individual or the imposition of a self-selected group as governors over the people.

The concept of the will of the people must, for us, assume added significance because the failure to permit the exercise of that will in our own country gave birth to the apartheid crime against humanity against which all humanity rebelled.

We are therefore involved in serious efforts to create a constitutional and political order in our country which must be truly democratic.

Its centre piece must clearly be the respect for and defence of the fundamental human rights of all our people, both black and white.

We must discover and use all instruments available in the human experience to achieve this objective, including the adoption of an entrenched and enforceable Bill of Rights and the formation of an independent and representative judiciary.

Similarly, we must create a political order which ensures the existence of as many parties as the people may wish to form, guarantees regular, free and fair elections and nurtures the political tolerance and the common loyalty to the constitutional order without which a democratic system cannot survive.

More immediately, we are also determined to contribute what we can to produce the circumstances which will enable the transition to democracy to be as peaceful as possible and the forthcoming elections to be truly free and fair.

The new democracy should be born in conditions of peace. The new political order should enjoy legitimacy and stability, in part because the process leading to its emergence should itself have been characterised by both stability and popular legitimacy.

We cannot here pretend that what we are saying will be achieved easily. Our failure, so far, to deal adequately with the problem and challenge of political violence speaks for itself.

That we have to do more in this regard cannot be questioned. We, as South Africans and activists for peace, are convinced that we will win the battle for peace as we have won other battles in the past, when it seemed that everything was bleak and hopeless.

Clearly, we cannot allow those who murder and maim to stop the process of democratic transformation. This process
must and will succeed. By definition, this means that those who seek to subvert it must not be allowed to
realise their objective.

The overwhelming majority of the people of our country want democracy, peace and prosperity. They are fully aware of the interconnection between these goals.

Where the people say - let there be peace! - there can be no group of conspirators, however well organised, conspiratorial and fanatical, that can succeed against the people as a whole.

We also pursue very important objectives of national reconciliation and national unity and the building of a common patriotism.

For this reason, and to ensure that the outcome of the negotiations enjoys the support of the overwhelming majority of our people, we have insisted that the process of change should be as inclusive as possible.

We continue to battle with this issue, especially in the light of the fact that some of the political formations in the country, including the Inkatha Freedom Party and the Conservative Party, have, as of this moment, pulled out of the negotiations.

We believe that it is as much in the interest of these parties as it is in our own, as well as the process itself, that they should indeed return to the negotiations.

In any case, there is no other platform in which they can present their views except around the negotiation table which has taken so much time, effort and pain to put together.

What we are trying to convey to this important conference is that we are engaged in efforts which are historic in
the context of our country's history to produce a political settlement which, because it will address the interests and aspirations of all our people, will result in the birth of a democratic, stable and peaceful society.

We owe this outcome both to ourselves and to the nations of the world, including this one, which decided not to stand on the touchline as we battled to end apartheid and assert the values represented by your own Constitution, your Declaration of Independence, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the United Nations Charter.

But the truth also needs to be confronted that the democratic settlement we seek needs to be supported and guaranteed by an actual and sustainable improvement in the material conditions of life of our people.

It has been said that an empty stomach is a bad political adviser.

We must contend with the fact that the young democracy in our country will break down or be subjected to very serious strains if nothing is done to address the issues of poverty, the racial imbalances in the distribution of
wealth, income and opportunity and the economic growth and development which cry out for urgent attention.

After all, apartheid has been more than a denial of political and fundamental human rights. It has also been a system of economic inequity which not only impoverished millions, but also created the structural crises which the new South Africa will have to address.

And yet that economy harbours enormous strengths which will enable our common efforts to ensure its regeneration in a relatively short period of time, depending on what we actually do.

I am pleased that present here today are many of my compatriots who will be able to discuss with you the intricacies of our economy, what it can and cannot do and what it can and cannot offer. I will therefore leave all these matters to them.

What I would however like to say is that we do indeed look forward to your own engagement with our economy, for the mutual benefit.

We are aware that we live in a world in which there is intense competition for scarce capital. We are therefore determined to ensure that our own country becomes an attractive destination for the enormous capital resources held by the institutions you represent.

We are convinced that we can build a mutually beneficial partnership which will not only help us to rebuild, develop and modernise the South African economy, but also expand the frontiers of prosperity and mutual benefit without which, in the end, no country can survive.

Ours is a small economy. Our country is but a small dot in the map of the universe. We claim no special standing in relation to other countries and peoples.

But this we would like to say: our common humanity moved all of us to oppose apartheid. Our common humanity must move us to complete the effort to expunge racism from South African society.

Freedom and democracy must have as its reward not only the right and possibility of everyone to vote.

It must also have the potential to say to everyone that they have the possibility to lead decent lives, to feed themselves and their children, to regain their human dignity, because no longer would they be forced to beg when they could work for their living.

If we attend to these two matters as we have to, namely, the political emancipation and economic prosperity, we shall also have taken a decisive step, if we may quote a German poet and playwright, to confront the bitch that is heat again - the bitch of racism that is in heat in this country, in many countries of West and Eastern Europe and within the poor countries themselves.

Our common success in South Africa to build an interlinked system of democracy, development, human rights, prosperity, stability and peace will address a message to the whole of Africa that this powerful nation cares and that its citizens recognise that they are not an island unto themselves.

It will address a message to those pockets of resistance to a humane future for all peoples that there is in world politics and the world economy the will to act in ways that recognise that all of us are human beings, entitled to live in an environment that enables all of us to live as human beings.

We welcome your interest in our country and would warmly welcome your involvement with us in its reconstruction.

Whatever you may read in the newspapers and hear on television and radio, please imprint it on your minds that the new South Africa, Southern Africa and our continent will value the mutually beneficial partnership which is within our common possibility to create, nurture allow to blossom.

By the ways in which we shall act, we shall surely define ourselves as makers of history.

Please accept our readiness to meet this challenge.

Thank you.

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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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