Item 263 - Nelson Mandela's addres on the Senate President's Budget Debate

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Nelson Mandela's addres on the Senate President's Budget Debate


  • 1995-06-01 (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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ANC Website

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Senate President's Budget Debate

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  • English

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Mr. President;
Honourable Senators;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Opportunities for us to account in this manner before the Senate are few and far between. We therefore value this occasion for critical engagement with a House that is central in the body politic of the nation.

A delegation led by the President has just returned from a visit to the United Republic of Tanzania. Memories of the warmth and feelings of solidarity of Tanzanians towards us are still fresh in our minds. We could not but be struck by their pride in the selfless sacrifice that they made in support of liberation struggles in the region, including our own.

The people of Tanzania, like others who made this sacrifice, do not expect anything in return. They do appreciate South Africa's problems. But, like us, they want to strengthen relations, particularly investment and trade.

What this visit has once more underlined, is the centrality of South Africa and Africa in the foreign policy of our new democracy. This we intend to carry out on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

Along with our neighbours, we are committed to promoting world peace, human rights, democracy, development and equitable inter-state relations. These principles do not only reflect our morality as a nation; but they also advance our own interests as a state.

This, and only this perspective, forms the pillar of our foreign policy.

Mr. President;

It is a matter of pure coincidence, and yet so auspicious, that most of the matters that are at the centre of current national discourse, relate closely to the tasks of the Senate as defined in the Constitution.

When we had a similar opportunity last year, we were still grappling with the challenge of defining our roles in practical terms. I am certain that all of us can today confidently say that we have moved substantially from the uncertainties of planning into practical implementation.

With regard to the Senate, in particular, I have personally been struck by the interesting report of the Select Committee on Liaison with Provinces. The visit that was conducted to the Northern Transvaal Province has laid the basis for the kind of field work that the Senate can do, to link up with communities and help resolve their problems.

The collective inter-party assessment of concrete conditions in the Provinces will help forge the Senate into a critical instrument in nation-building and development. It will also promote rational debate to ensure that all parts of the country, particularly the ones previously ignored, benefit from the scarce resources we have.

Allow me, Mr. President, to be so presumptuous as to propose that, perhaps such visits should, for a start, focus on such depressed areas, including parts of the country that experience tension, political violence and lack of free political activity.

We are confident that departments to whom the recommendations have been forwarded, will deal with them seriously and expeditiously.

The people of Giyani, University of the North, Tshaulu and others whom you met, should feel, from the practical results of your intervention, that, in Senators and other legislators, they have representatives who have their interests at heart.

Great stride have been made through inter-governmental forums to define the nature and rules of functional relations between Provinces and central government, and allocating the powers they need to carry out their functions. The work of the Senate is a welcome contribution to this process.

We cannot pretend that there are no problems in this regard. Debate continues around such issues as separation of elements of concurrent functions, co-operation in respect of laws that should be jointly managed, the best and quickest ways to rationalise former administrations and problems of capacity in the Provinces.

All these issues are being thrashed out in discussion in relevant forums. The exchanges in these forums are sometimes heated. But, the central thing is that those who have the country's interests at heart are making valuable contributions there.

Mr. President;

Our young democracy is at one of the most critical moments in its short history. Such is the importance of the coming local government elections, both to the task of completing the establishment of democratic government and ensuring reconstruction and development.

Much progress has been made in the registration drive. But this is not nearly satisfactory.

I wish therefore to call on all South Africans who have not yet registered to do so before Monday, 5th June. Indeed, we need to pose the question to all political parties a well as community, religious, business, sporting and other organisations: what is it that we shall do over the next 4 days to ensure that the overwhelming majority of the people register!

The structures and procedures put in place to facilitate these elections were set up in a spirit of compromise and consensus, and with the overriding consideration of de-racialising South African society. It is therefore critical that leaders at all levels exercise their powers in a manner that advances this delicate transition.

What is needed is maturity and a sense of balance, an approach that should make it unnecessary for central government to intervene. All of us will agree that, especially in this period of constitution-making, the country requires a style that enhances rather than undermines confidence in the capacity of Provincial Governments to exercise their powers with responsibility.

A robust local government election contest is unfolding. All of us - including the media - need to take cognisance of the fact that in such a campaign, emphasis will be placed on differences among parties rather than the many common ideals we share.

This is entirely healthy. It's what democracy is about.

Yet, it will also bring, especially for members of the Government of National Unity, a continuous struggle to strike the correct balance between party political statements and cabinet responsibilities. For, we need to ensure that our shared perspective on, and allegiance to, the constitution, the RDP and the country are not undermined. In any case, we will have to continue working together long after these elections.

It is therefore crucial that Government commits itself and is seen in practice to act against any tendencies to subvert the constitution, foment violence or prevent free political activity - be it in the name of the election campaign or in pursuit of more sinister agendas. This must be dealt with firmly.

Government is solemnly bound to protect life and ensure the safety and security of all citizens. A start has been made to improve the situation in areas seriously affected in Gauteng, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Where success has been registered, this is in part because of a change in attitudes on the part of both the police and the communities, which makes policing that much more easier and effective. Mr. President; Much debate has taken place around the complex issue of language rights. The policy positions of Government on this issue are clear and do not require repetition.

This is one of the critical areas in which the Senate has a special responsibility. Delays in the setting up of a Pan-South African Language Board are regrettable. There may be good reason for this. But the reality is that there is a continuing vacuum, which does not lend itself to rational debate. We hope that legislation on this matter will be passed before the end of the year.

The issue of language is among the concerns raised by those who are advocating for a so-called Afrikaner volkstaat. Without commenting on the merits or demerits of the solutions they propose, we do recognise that the issue of language is a sensitive one. It affects, even more, languages which have been discriminated against for decades under apartheid.

On the more general question of the report of the Volkstaatraad, I wish to reiterate that my organisation and I, personally, will study the report with sensitivity. We will do so taking into account co-operation by these leaders in the peaceful transition. At the same time, we remain firmly committed to the principles of democracy, non-racialism and equality.

It is also crucial that the process of setting up Houses of Traditional Leaders is expedited. Most of the provinces affected have already done so; and I understand that progress is being made in resolving problems in the Provinces lagging behind. We cannot as government claim to be inclusive if we continue to function without the input of our traditional leaders.

The related matter of salaries to these leaders has been the focus of public comment in the past few days. The Bill should be submitted to parliament in a fortnight or so; and it enjoys the support of the majority of traditional leaders. This is the case because these leaders are at one with Government that there should be national uniformity; and that this matter should be resolved in a manner that eliminates political abuse.

Honourable Senators;

Today is International Children's Day. On this day, we can as a people, look back with pride at the first steps that we have taken to make our children's lives better. The free health care scheme, primary school nutrition and the phasing in of free and compulsory education are the foundation upon which we are building.

Recently, we removed a terrible blot on the conscience of the nation by transferring child detainees and prisoners to places of safety. There are many problems still to be resolved. But, in addition to carrying out our moral obligation to these children, we have also ensured equality of treatment to both black and white children.

I am informed that parliament will ratify the International Convention on the Rights of the Child within a fortnight. More than anything else, this places an even greater obligation on us to finalise and implement the plan of action to realise the objectives of this Charter. On this, we cannot and shall not falter.

Mr. President;

On all these matters and others, we can say with confidence that South Africa is on course. We are making steady progress towards our goal of a better life.

From emphasis on planning, we are now poised to see major visible changes in the fields of housing, job-creation through public works, crime prevention and other areas. The economy is in a steady growth path.

Nothing can subtract from these achievements

Inspired by these developments, and by the application of Senators to their work, one can say that the South African nation is poised for even greater successes.


Paragraph beginning: "What this visit has once more underlined, is the centrality of South Africa and Africa in the foreign policy of our new democracy."
Sentence in web text: "This w intend to carry out on th basis of equality and mutual respect."
Changes made: "w" changed to "we" and "th" changed to "the"

Paragraph beginning: "With regard to the Senate,m in particular,"
Changes made: "m" deleted

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 16/11/06 by Helen Joannides




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