Item 158 - Address by Nelson R Mandela to the plenary session of the multi-party negotiations process

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Address by Nelson R Mandela to the plenary session of the multi-party negotiations process


  • 1993-11-17 (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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ANC Website

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Plenary session of the Multi-Party Negotiations Process

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  • English

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Honourable Justices,
Leaders and Members of all delegations present here today.

We have reached the end of an era. We are at the beginning of a new era.

Whereas apartheid deprived millions of our people of their citizenship, we are restoring that citizenship.

Whereas apartheid sought to fragment our country, we are re-uniting our country.

The central theme of the Constitution for the Transition is the unity of our country and people.

This Constitution recognises the diversity of our people. Gone will be the days when one language dominated. Gone will be the days when one religion was elevated to a position of privilege over other religions. Gone will be the days when one culture was elevated to a position of superiority and other denigrated and denied.

We emerge from a conflict ridden-society; a society in which colour, class and ethnicity were manipulated to sow hatred and division. We emerge from a society which was structured on violence and which raised the spectre of a nation in danger of never being able to live at peace with itself.

Our agreements have put that era behind us. This shameful past dictates the crucial need for a Government of National Unity. We are firmly on the road to a non-racial and non-sexist democracy.

For the first time in the history of our country, on April 27th, 1994, all South Africans, whatever their language, religion and culture, whatever their colour or class, will vote as equal citizens.

Millions who were not allowed to vote, will do so. I, too, for the first time in my short life, will vote.

There are some people who still express fears and concerns. To them we say: you have a place in our country. You have a right to raise your fears and your concerns. We, for our part, are committed to giving you the opportunity to bring forth those views so that they may be addressed within the framework of democracy.

The democratic order gives to each and all of us the instruments to address problems constructively and through dialogue.

Le ke yona indawo, kufuneka icace oku kwebhokwe emhlophe ihamba ehlungwini: Embusweni wentando yabantu, ngabantu, ayamkelekile konke into yokuba iqaqobana labantu linganako ukunyazelisa intando neemfuno zalo, ngokwenjenjalo lisengele phantsi, lidobelela iimfanelo namalungelo akhe namnye ummi weli lizwe.

(Let this, however, be clear: there is no place in a democracy for any community or section of a community to impose its will at the expense of the fundamental rights of any other citizen.)

Ek will weereens sekere groepe in die Afrikaner gemeenskap aanspreek: Almal van u is deel van die Suid-Afrikaanse nasie. Almal van u is gelyke burgers van die nuwe Suid-Afrika. U het die volste reg tot u eie taal, godsdiens en kultuur. Hierdie regte sal u nie ontneem word nie.

Let us all grasp the opportunities that democracy offers. Democracy has no place for talk of civil war. Those who persist with such threats do not care for human life.

Democracy is about empowerment. Now together we can begin to make the equality of education the right of all our children; to begin to remove homelessness, hunger and joblessness; to begin to restore land to those who were deprived by force and injustice; to break the cycle of stagnation in our economy.

Together, we can build a society free of violence. We can build a society grounded on friendship and our common humanity - a society founded on tolerance. That is the only road open to us. It is a road to a glorious future in this beautiful country of ours. Let us join hands and march into the future.

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 13/11/06 by Helen Joannides




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