Item 386 - Notes for the address by President Nelson Mandela to the National Assembly at the closing of the President's Budget Debate

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Notes for the address by President Nelson Mandela to the National Assembly at the closing of the President's Budget Debate


  • 1996-06-21 (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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Closing of the President's Budget Debate, Parliament, 1996

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  • English

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Paragraph beginning: "Yet in reality, that support expresses the consensus among South Africa's leaders about the direction in which the country is going"
Sentence in web text: "It expresses the New Patriotism that is taking root among all sectors of the population and all political schools of thought. "
Changes made: "New Patriotism" changed to "new patriotism"

Paragraph beginning: "A number of matters were raised pertaining to our new constitution, most of which are crucial to the extent that they are expressed within the ambit of broad support to the basic law of the land."
Changes made: All "constituion" changed to "Constitution"



Madame Speaker;
Honourable Members.

We have now come to the end of a lively debate on the President's Budget Vote.

As in the Senate two days ago, many thought-provoking issues were raised; many concrete proposals were made about how to improve our efforts in government, about how to forge our people into a united nation; and many well-considered arguments were made about the worth or otherwise of this or the other party.

It is naturally not possible to refer to all of the issues raised. But the observation needs to be made that the leadership of South Africa in this august house, rises in quality with each debate and with each new step that we take towards a better life.

What struck me over and over again, was the constant and unanimous refrain from all the parties in support of the Budget Vote. In the frailty of character that afflicts us all, this does add to one's sense of personal satisfaction.

Yet in reality, that support expresses the consensus among South Africa's leaders about the direction in which the country is going. It expresses the new patriotism that is taking root among all sectors of the population and all political schools of thought. It reflects the new level of democracy that the country has attained both in the practice and in the broad framework contained in our new constitution.

Indeed, this was the defining character of the debate. And our attention to some of the detail, both during the debate and in these closing remarks should not detract from this basic fact.

A number of matters were raised pertaining to our new Constitution, most of which are crucial to the extent that they are expressed within the ambit of broad support to the basic law of the land.

This broad support for the Constitution was played out some forty days ago, when the National Party decided to withdraw from the Government of National Unity. In the NP statement and that of the ANC, there was concurrence that this step, regrettable as it may have been, represented the further maturing of our democracy. We expressed the hope then, and were reassured, that the NP would become a vigorous opposition loyal to the Constitution and the country's interests,

We are indeed appreciative of the fact that this approach has not changed. And we hope that some of the remarks made in the debate yesterday do not subtract from the fact that South Africa has long passed the stage of discourse around constitutionally-enforced coalitions. We hope that the common approach that we adopted then is not now transmuting into a small-minded stance on the issue. Indeed, when we celebrate the maturing of democracy, we should accept the full implications of what this means.

In addition to this, there was agreement during constitutional negotiations that, at the present stage, proportional representation constitutes the best electoral system for our conditions, in large measure because it is sensitive to the interests of minority parties. Thus, to us, references to a Westminster system seem to be thoroughly misplaced.

The new Constitution also guarantees individual as well as collective rights. It weaves together, in a particularly unique South African way, the prerogatives of individual rights with the sensitivities of religious, language and cultural communities.

It is in this context that the issue of language and education are dealt with. On the one hand, there is the need for fundamental transformation that few would find fault with. And on the other, the collective rights of distinct communities have to be taken into account.

Institutional mechanisms have also been proposed to deal with the sensitive question of religious, cultural and linguistic minorities.

Within a few weeks, the Constitutional Court will pronounce on whether or not the Constitution accords with the Constitutional Principles. A number of parties represented here have lodged their complaints and misgivings with the Court, and we accept without qualification their right to do so.

The Constitutional Court, made up of South African men and women of integrity, and whose independence all parties accept, is indeed the most suitable to determine this question. It is the forum where actual mediation between various interests and various interpretations of the Constitutional Principles - by South Africans among South Africans - is taking place.

Madame Speaker;

Many Honourable Members referred to the situation in KwaZulu/- Natal and the concern that we all have about the loss of life, the maiming of individuals and the displacement of communities. It is heartening that for the first time, references to the problems in this Province were all tied together by a common thread of hope and confidence that solutions are indeed being found.

This applies to the many initiatives that have been taken to bring communities and leaders together to jointly work for peace. In this regard we should congratulate the King, the religious leaders, political leaders and others for this new surge towards a lasting solution.

Hope and confidence derive also from the unanimous acknowledgement among all parties that strong security measures are required to deal with the perpetrators of violence. We are heartened by the fact that speakers from the various parties accepted the need for this.

This consensus is also reflected in the references that were made to the issue of crime.

When the National Crime Prevention Strategy was launched a few weeks ago, it had the support of all parties: and this remains the situation today. We are convinced that as Honourable Members study and internalise the Strategy as well as the Police Plan of Action, they will be able to make an informed input about how to improve on the measures that are being taken; as distinct from protestations that reverberate with great sound, but contain little concrete substance. Thus, debate on the scourge of crime will move to a higher and practical plane, and take us a step further in the war against the criminals.

This and other areas of national endeavour constitute a concrete foundation for co-operation among all parties, whether in opposition or within government.

In the context of these efforts in pursuit of a common objective, we shall not only reinforce one another and improve our service to the nation; but we shall also come to understand each other better. As such, we shall all mature from the wild imaginings of seeing in other parties creatures with horns, from the nursery rhymes of goggas behind every bush and under every bed.

Madame Speaker;

The Minister of Finance reported to you yesterday on the major conference on European investment in South Africa which he recently attended. He spoke of the groundswell of support for our economic policies and of the positive view of the potential of our economy as an investment destination. This accords strongly with my own experience in visits abroad, whether it be my recent visit to Germany; earlier ones to the United States and Japan: or others.

One of the advantages of going to other countries is the opportunity to learn at first hand how our country is perceived by others. What such visits make clear, and what was again illustrated in yesterday's debate, is how unreliable are the declarations of some of South Africa's self-appointed spokespersons for foreign investors. This goes in particular for those who, as the United States ambassador said in the statement cited by Minister Manuel, president negative accounts of South Africa to potential investors, allowing short-term political differences to operate in the economic arena in ways that are counterproductive to long-term investment.

As the invaluable Nedcor Study on Crime found, foreign companies in fact base their investment decisions overwhelmingly on hard economic factors. And amongst the foremost of these is the government's macroeconomic policies. On that score, in our relations with the international and South African investor community, things are indeed falling into place.

The Macroeconomic Strategy for Growth, Employment and Redistribution; like the National Crime Prevention Strategy and other initiatives of government coming to fruition, provide guidelines for action and frameworks for operation of a quality that this country, frankly, has never known.

Differences between parties over detail and development do exist. But in this context the measure of any party or leader is the capacity to give direction to their constituency. In the midst of all the detail - accurate or inaccurate, positive or negative - which finds its way into the public domain, the challenge is not to lose sight of the wood for the trees; it is to identify the essence of these real and momentous developments. The strategies, frameworks and plans should be improved through criticism where necessary; and used for the benefit of the whole country.

Ultimately, in debate and in action, now and in the future, we shall always face the option of whether to wallow in the mire of pettiness or to deal with the real issues that face the nation.

In this regard, I should say that I found quite refreshing the earnest analysis of dynamics within the white community, by one of the speakers. In identifying the possible reasons for anxiety among some of them, enlightening and honest facts were put on the table; and these are issues that all parties and leaders should heed.

Yet our approach to these questions should be to ensure that members of this community - professionals, business-persons, workers, religious leaders and others - become a full part of the changes engulfing our country today.

In the various forums that exist such as Nedlac, professional organisations, religious bodies, local government and indeed ourselves as their representatives, the concerns should not only be aired; they should jointly be addressed within the context of practical work to improve the conditions of all the people. We should find practical answers to the question, what do liberation and a better life mean for every sector of our people!

Madame Speaker;

Cabinet yesterday held its last meeting before the winter recess. By the time we reconvene, the National Party will not be in cabinet, having voluntarily decided to make leave of what reins of executive power they still had after the democratic elections.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank Deputy President De Klerk and all the ministers from this party who served with us during the difficult days of our transition. We wish them well in the opposition benches, and we are hopeful that, in their new role, they will add another brick onto the edifice of our young democracy.

Among the Ministers and senior leaders of the NP leaving positions of responsibility are personalities who are taking leave of public life; Roelof "Pik" Botha, Chris Fismer, Leon Wessels and perhaps others in the near future.

As I indicated in the Senate two days ago, this concerns me personally, given that these leaders who are leaving worked hard and played a critical role in building national unity and preventing the revival of racism both within parties and in communities where they work. We hope that, wherever they will be, they will continue to be of service to the nation.

Honourable Members;

We adjourn for the winter recess confident that wheels of government are now rolling with better capacity and co-ordination to meet the mandate of the electorate.

We hope that as you interact with your constituents, you will be better able to assess the national mood, the priorities of communities and the expectations that they have of all of us.

In the final analysis, as we continue our work after the recess, our performance for the year will be judged by them. And they are the ones on whom we shall continually rely to make the dream of a winning nation a reality.

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 22/11/06 by Helen Joannides




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