Item 803 - Statement by President Nelson Mandela, Chairman of SADC, on the occasion of the official opening of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of SADC

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Statement by President Nelson Mandela, Chairman of SADC, on the occasion of the official opening of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of SADC


  • 1998-09-13 (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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South African Government Information Website

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Opening of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of SADC

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  • English

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Your Majesty,
Your Excellencies
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to begin by thanking our host, the Right Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Navin Ramgoolam for his kind words of welcome, following hot on the heels of the warm welcome we received upon our arrival earlier today.

We are humbled by the typical Mauritian hospitality that I believe most of us have until now only read about in tourism brochures.

Your Majesty, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

SADC remains focused on its mission of development through co-operation and therefore on the objectives of sustained economic growth and development; poverty eradication; peace, security and stability; equity and social justice.

Recent developments in Southern Africa and in the world as a whole have reminded us, if we needed it, how interconnected these goals are and how dependent their achievement by any of us is on others achieving them

They have emphasised the premises on which our community was founded: that the problems we face are beyond the capacity of any one of us to solve alone; and that, as developing countries in an increasingly interdependent world, we will only realise our potential by pooling our resources and our sovereignty.

The successful meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement from which we have just returned has strengthened our pride in the progress which SADC has made in forging an engine for regional development. It has re-invigorated our confidence in the importance of what we are doing as a region.

The developments to which we refer are both political and economic.

Our success in making a significant improvement in the region's overall macro economic situation has without doubt been qualified by the global financial turmoil resulting from movements of vast speculative funds over recent months. Events elsewhere in the world have led investors to cast a more negative eye on our region as a developing one.

We nevertheless remain resolute in our goal of making Southern Africa a leading destination for international investment. We remain committed to the combination of sound economic policies; good governance and
far-reaching programmes of reconstruction and development. If so far as our region as a whole has not suffered the worst effects of the global storm, it is because of our consistent application of this approach.

But notwithstanding this, the pace of socio-economic change continues to be impeded by the cost of servicing debt. We are concerned that in most SADC member States debt repayments constitute a significant proportion
of GDP, and use up resources which should rather fund productive investment; building of houses; education or the extension of health care.

Our ability to continue lowering inflation and reducing fiscal deficits is therefore dependent on the willingness of the creditor countries and institutions to work with us to devise realistic debt cancellation schedules.

Our own difficulties are a part of the problems of Africa and of the developing world as a whole. Inasmuch as we rely on co-operation with one another to make progress within our region, the ultimate conditions for our success depend on our speaking and working as a part of Africa and a part of the South.

At the same time our ability to withstand the impact of such problems, and to take advantage of the opportunities of integration in the global market, requires that we advance a viable and sustainable regional development plan. To that end, and as we agreed, our deputies have already met to begin the process of elaborating a longer term
development plan.

And we need also to review frankly what progress we are making to advance towards the economic integration which is our objective.

On the political front as in the economic sphere, instability in one country impacts on its neighbours and ultimately threatens SADC as a whole.

We can justly celebrate the way in which a democratic culture has taken root in most of our region in the few years since the end of one-party and apartheid rule.

Even as we do so we are mindful that some SADC states are still grappling with civil strife or tensions.

We are deeply distressed by the re-emergence of violent conflict in one of our founding states. Just when the people of Angola believed that war had given way to the process of reconstruction and development, they have been pulled back into the throes of pain and suffering.

We have great confidence in the initiatives of the UN in seeking the resolution of the Angolan crisis, and we therefore call for the rigorous implementation of the UN Security Council sanctions to oblige UNITA fully to implement the Lusaka Peace Protocol.

In some of our Member States we have seen political demonstrations, some over electoral processes, others over economic issues. The capacity of our political systems to allow space to such manifestations, and to find ways of addressing the situations that give rise to them is, we believe, an indication of the extent to which democracy is becoming established in our region.

The situation in Lesotho does cause us genuine concern. But we believe that however bitter the debate may be, a solution will be found. Our confidence is based on the fact that this is a country which has produced outstanding leaders, who can rise to the challenge because they are aware that the solution is in their hands. All that we can do as SADC is to facilitate where they need our facilitation.

We are encouraged by the progress in the Victoria Falls initiative towards securing peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in staving off a conflict which threatened to involve the whole region. That progress is a tribute to the quality of leadership that Africa has produced.

The challenge now is to develop and implement the agreements so that the people of the DRC can determine their own destiny and embark on reconstruction as a united, democratic, stable and prosperous nation; and so that the independence and security of all the countries of Southern Africa and the Great Lakes region are secure.

For SADC this means exercising its responsibility, working together with the Organisation of African Unity, to create the mechanisms which will ensure progress towards processes which will ultimately result in genuinely democratic elections.

What is critical is that all the initiatives being taken should be harmonised. In a situation of such complexity, which engages the interests of all the countries of our region and beyond, and with the constant potential for the outbreak of tensions, the co-ordination of interventions should have the highest priority, on the basis of the decisions taken at Victoria Falls and Pretoria.

Your Excellencies;

Progress along the path of development depends also on our eradicating social ills which keep gnawing at the fabric of our societies, two of which deserve particular mention.

We should condemn without reservation all forms of corruption and greed which are diverting resources from productive growth and social upliftment. We should put in place measures to nip this social malice in the bud, and be uncompromising in taking to task those who seek position or power in order to corrupt the political order for personal gain.

Violence against women and children must be eradicated from our region. By inflicting such brutality upon the most vulnerable sectors of our society, we betray the principles for which our liberation was fought, and we destroy our own societies and undermine the future of our region.

Your Excellencies;

We have just completed a review of the SADC Programme of Action, which had grown unwieldy. The results of this exercise will provide us with material for deliberation that can usher in a leaner and more manageable organisation, one that is even more effective in unlocking our region's potential.

This matter may well demand fuller consideration than an annual Summit can accommodate, as may the question of how best to co-ordinate the activities of our component structures concerned with economic, social,
political and security matters.

These issues, as well as the longer term development plan to which I have referred, are critical to the capacity of our community to fulfil its historic mission, of turning our region into a zone of peace, prosperity and equity in which the suffering of our people has been eradicated.

It might therefore be right for the Executive Secretary to consult with the principals as to whether a special summit might not be needed to deal thoroughly with these matters that are of such great significance to the future of our organisation and our region.

In conclusion, may I once again express my sincere gratitude to the Right Honourable, Dr. Ramgoolam, the government and the people of Mauritius for their warm hospitality and the excellent conditions they have created for us to succeed in our work.

I thank you.



A printed version of the speech found in Mr Mandela's presidential records has a more lengthy salutation:
Your Majesty, King Mswati III;
The Right Honourable Prime Minister Ramgoolam, our Host;
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government;
Your Excellencies, Heads of continental and international organisations;
Honourable Ministers;
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen,

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: South African Government Information Website. Accessioned on 19/12/06 by Helen Joannides




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