Item 1402 - Address Read on Behalf of Mr Nelson Mandela at the occasion of the celebration of the 90th year of the African National Congress

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ZA COM MR-S-1402


Address Read on Behalf of Mr Nelson Mandela at the occasion of the celebration of the 90th year of the African National Congress


  • 2002-01-06 (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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African National Congress` 90th Anniversary Celebration, Kings Park Absa Stadium Durban South Africa

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  • English

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When any of us who has had the privilege of being part of the leadership of the African National Congress state that ours had been one of the great liberation movements of our time, we can do so without any self aggrandisement. We can do so without drawing attention to the achievements of individuals or leaders, for the African National Congress had from its inception and throughout its history been an organisation of and for the people, an organisation driven by and based on the wishes and efforts of its mass membership.

And today as we gather here to mark and celebrate 90 years of existence and operation of our organisation we can indeed claim, with humility, that history honoured us with the opportunity of being part of a great liberation movement. The cause for which it stood, mobilised, struggled and fought has universally been recognised and hailed as one of the great moral struggles of the twentieth century. Like few other political struggles it drew the support of virtually all political persuasions throughout the world; and the ANC came to represent also the moral wishes of all freedom loving people who found racial discrimination and oppression abhorrent and an affront to human dignity.

The justness of our cause could, however, not on its own have assured the success of our organisation and our struggle. The justness of our cause had to be matched by the methods and morality of our organisation. And we can today in all humility claim that our liberation movement had throughout its existence sought to have its conduct informed by those enduring values of humanity. As in all human undertakings there were failings, but it was the overall adherence to those informing values that ensured for our liberation movement its place in history.

We gather to pay homage to the founders of the ANC and all those who followed to build the organisation. We pay tribute to the millions who had made the organisation theirs and that of the people of South Africa. We remember our fallen heroes who had paid the supreme price in service of the ideals for which the organisation stood and fought. We salute each and every member who had withstood the daily hardships and dangers to contribute to the organisation and the fight for freedom. We acknowledge the many who might not have been members of the ANC and yet supported its struggle in a variety of ways. For it has been one of the strengths of the organisation that it could mobilise and rally support and co-operation even from those who in many other respects disagreed.

The end of apartheid concluded the long anti-colonial struggle in Africa and marked a moral victory in which the entire world shared. The manner in which the ANC led the transition to national democracy assured that our country and its people have taken a place of honour amongst the nations of the world: an example of the triumph of negotiation, tolerance and commitment to peace.

We mark the ninetieth celebrations of the ANC as a liberation movement in government. For the past seven years it was our task to make true that founding commitment that the people shall govern. History has rewarded the struggles of our organisation with an even greater obligation: to build and consolidate our democracy, reconstruct and transform our society and to create a better life for all our people, particularly for the poor and marginalised.

Whatever criticism may be brought against the ANC-led government, nobody can deny the simple fact that no other government in the history of this country has done as much for the ordinary people or brought as much positive change to their basic living conditions. The ANC government is the first to acknowledge and emphasise that much still needs to be done and that the challenges ahead are tremendous. Yet, working under enormous economic and financial constraints not of its own making, the government has overseen the delivery of basic services and amenities to millions of people for whom those were privileges unthought-of of just a few years ago.

President Thabo Mbeki can rightly claim that no Prime Minister or President in the history of the country has presided over so much progress in the affairs of the country. Our economy is universally recognised as being one of the best managed in the developing world; the stability of our political order is hardly an issue; we are recognised as playing a leading role in continental and international affairs under his astute leadership. Those values that guided the ANC through decades of struggle continue to be the lodestar for the organisation in government.

The President and the government had also been subjected to merciless criticism from various quarters. Some of this criticism seems to be almost instinctual, a reflex reaction that expects things to go wrong where a liberation movement has taken over the role of government.
As a layperson we do, however, find some of the points of criticism that have consistently been raised difficult to reject or repudiate.

Knowing our organisation and its leadership, we are confident that in due course the President and the government will take
note and give consideration to those points of criticism as they are raised in the national interest and deserve to be taken seriously.

Our organisation has managed to stay alive, grow and go from strength to strength exactly because it nurtured and encouraged debate and criticism as its life-blood. The mere existence of our tri-partite alliance, for example, is an expression of the organisational accommodation and encouragement of a variety of opinions, persuasions and points of departure. It is that tradition of debate, discussion and criticism that we must continue to nurture and openly encourage in all spheres of national life.

Apart from the intrinsic value of such a critical approach, the organisation also has every reason to be self-confident. During the last elections on national, provincial and local levels we increased our support amongst the electorate compared to the previous sets of elections. We are a growing organisation, in spite of the wishful thinking of some of our critics.

We look forward to our future with confidence. Our government is being led by an organisation that has given sterling leadership over a period of nine decades.

Long live the African National Congress in pursuit of a better life for all the people of South Africa.

I thank you.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 02/02/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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