Address by President Nelson Mandela to Parliament

South African History Online

Address by President Nelson Mandela to Parliament

National Assembly, Cape Town, 5 February 1999

Madame Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly;
Honourable
Chairperson and Deputy Chairpersons of the National Council of
Provinces;
Honourable Members of Parliament;
Distinguished
guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Today we start the ultimate session of our first democratic parliament.

The profound changes of the past four-and-half years make the distance
traversed seem so short; the end so sudden. Yet with the epoch-making progress
that has been made, this period could have been decades.

South Africa is in a momentous process of change, blazing a trail towards a
secure future.

The time is yet to come for farewells, as many of us - by choice or
circumstance - will not return.

However, there is no time to pause. The long walk is not yet over. The prize
of a better life has yet to be won

Allow me, Madame Speaker, to cast my eyes further back than the period under
review. Ten years ago, in a letter to the Head of the Apartheid State, in an
attempt to launch negotiations, one humble prisoner said that, at a first
meeting between government and the ANC, two central issues needed to be
addressed:

" .. .firstly, the demand for majority rule in a unitary state; secondly,
the concern of white South Africans over this demand, as well as the
insistence of whites on structural guarantees that majority rule will not mean
domination of the white minority by blacks"

In yet another letter, it was emphasised:

"The very first step on the way to reconciliation is obviously the
dismantling of apartheid, and all measures used to reinforce it. To talk of
reconciliation before this major step is taken is totally unrealistic"

These are some of the matters that I will address today.

Our transition has been managed with such success that some generously invoke
the imagery of "miracle". Things such as equality, the right to vote in free and
fair elections and freedom of speech, many of us now take for granted. Many past
difficulties are now mere footnotes of history.

There can be no equivocation that the majority of South Africans, coalesced
around our founding pact, are outgrowing the apprehensions which required the
convoluted "structural guarantees" of the first few years. Though we might
differ on method, it has become a national passion to pronounce commitment to a
better life for all.

What then is the nation's scorecard on the fundamental question of
socio-economic change?

Census 96, whose result was made public last year, has for the first time
given South Africa a detailed and comprehensive portrait of itself. And it is
against its dimensions that we must measure our progress.

In 1994, some 30% of South Africans lacked access to a safe supply of water
near their homes: today, after three million people have benefited from the
government's water supply programme, that has been reduced to 20%.

In 1994, less than 40% of South African households had electricity: today,
after more than 2 million connections, 63% of households are connected to the
electricity grid. In 1DS4, about a quarter of homes had telephones: today, after
1.3-million have been connected, 35% are linked to the telephone system.

This means that every day on average since our democratic elections has meant
another 1,300 homes electrified; another 750 telephones installed; and another
1,700 people gaining access to clean water.. . Every day! With the primary
school nutrition programme reaching over 5-million children and the benefit of
free health care, millions of children are growing healthy and unstunted.

Within the framework of our Integrated National Disability Strategy, today we
have a government whose concern for the needs of the disabled is unprecedented
in the history of South Africa.

This means more than the dry rhyme of statistics. The words of Ms Gladys
Nzilane of Evaton who received keys to her new house last year ring true from
the heart:

"I hear people on radio and television saying the government has failed; but
I do not believe that....[This government] has given us life".

In this, she was echoing the feelings of millions, including Mama Lenah
Ntsweni of Mpumalanga who was the 3-rnillionth person to receive safe and
accessible water a few weeks ago.

Before we lose ourselves in detail, important though it may be, let us come
back to the trends. The critical question is about a machinery which is
improving its capacity to meet the needs of South Africans.

Even where we might not have met our targets, this is the question that we
need to probe.

Such is the experience in the provision of subsidised housing. With
700-thousand houses either built or under construction, we do acknowledge that
we shall not reach the target of one million that we set ourselves. But, after
the initial hiccups of the first two years, we have now developed the capacity
to build 15,000 houses every month.

From the Jobs Summit, new initiatives have emerged, in a splendid partnership
between business and government, to start major projects that will put more
roofs over the head of those in want. As this project starts unlocking the
problem of limited public resources, so will its beneficiaries multiply - from
the supplier of building material to the small building contractor, from the new
employees to those who will occupy these dwellings.

The construction of sports facilities reached new levels in 1998 and the
establishment of Community Arts Centres exceeded the target. New ways of
facilitating land restitution and redistribution are being implemented. The
Adult Basic Education and Training Programme has reached more people than was
originally planned.

In the area of welfare, after the pain of restructuring, the reach and the
efficiency of delivery has improved; and R350-million is being saved a year by
better management and eliminating corruption.

The examples are many. But let us focus for a brief moment on two of the
issues, namely welfare and education. The savings that have been effected
through tackling fraud should rightly contribute to an expansion of assistance
to those in need. During this Year of Older Persons, all of us - and I do
include myself - are especially aware of the needs of senior citizens. We are
therefore pleased to announce that we are able once again to increase old age
pensions - this year by 4%, that is R20; and the disability grant by the same
percentage.

Regarding education, why is it that the majority of South Africans feel that
things have improved in this area?

This is because many of those who were studying under trees or in dilapidated
buildings have benefited from the R1-billion spent on the construction or
renovation of 10, 000 classrooms.

It is because the doors of all public schools are open; it is because the
higher education assistance scheme is reaching more students; it is because,
despite the setbacks of one or another year, the Matric results are improving.
And even if this majority does not read or hear or see in the media the praise
that is due when the Matric examinations are conducted without a major incident,
they do not need to be told, for they live these experiences.

Last year, we made the observation that it was inexcusable that text-books
were not supplied within seven days of the beginning of the school-term: Many
areas did meet this target. However, many did not. We hope that this year the
planning and funding will be settled earlier in the year. For, if this does not
happen after the pressured experiences of last year; if our administrations are
unable to carry out such a straight-forward project; then in the coming year,
ordinary citizens like myself, will feel justified in calling, so to speak, for
heads to roll!

Honourable Members and Delegates;

What this experience with text-books says to us is that capacity cannot be
built through ordinary motions of government as we know it. I know Deputy
President Thabo Mbeki has taken this issue to heart: that is, how to restructure
government with the prime objective of fulfilling people-centred functions,
rather than merely observing self-serving and archaic rules.

Such is the challenge in dealing with the difficult areas of crime and
job-creation. On both these issues there is naturally public impatience. So the
question we need to ask is whether there is a possibility of a strategic and
visible break with the perception of stagnation!

It is not my task, at this last sitting of Parliament, to set out medium- and
long-term programmes. But I feel more than confident to say that on both counts
- with regard to crime and job-creation - there is hope.

What are the trends and concrete measures on crime?

The statistics show that there has been a reduction or stabilisation in most
serious crimes. Murder for instance has declined by 10% since 1994. But the
response is made that figures are meaningless in the context of people's
concrete experiences.

A myriad of laws have been passed to narrow the space for criminals, the
latest among these being legislation on crime syndicates as well as minimum
sentences and conditions on the granting of bail. But the response is that not
enough criminals are being arrested and the quality of investigation is poor.

A detective academy has been set up, and the skills gathered here are
starting to be felt in dealing with crime syndicates. And major steps have been
taken to deploy police where they are needed most. But the response is, where
are the results!

All these responses arise from a failure to appreciate the fact that turning
the tide against crime cannot be achieved overnight. There are also deliberate
efforts to sensationalise and politicise this issue. But we are the first to
acknowledge that the impatience and dissatisfaction among ordinary people are
justified.

We can and shall break out of this bog. There is hope.

Examine the experience of the Johannesburg central precinct and the Durban
beach-front where communities and business-people have joined with police and
cut the crime rate, and you will know there is hope. Ask the kingpins of
cash-in-transit heists who are in C-max and you will know there is hope. Ask the
corrupt police who are facing various charges, and you will know there is hope.
Even though the level of attacks is rather too high, assess the trends in
farming communities after the Summit on this issue and you will know there is
hope.

For this we salute the men and women in blue, the overwhelming majority of
them citizens of outstanding bravery and integrity; men and women who daily put
their lives on the line so that the nation can enjoy security.

Above all, the establishment of the Office of the National Director of Public
Prosecutions and, along with it, the special investigation unit, has already
shown that a systematic approach to major crimes - combining intelligence,
professional investigations and prosecutions - is bound to bear fruit. And in
expressing our appreciation to the intelligence services for their contribution
in this and other areas to guarantee our people's security, I wish to join the
public in saying: more can be done; and more must be done.

Questions have been asked whether we have got the balance right between the
rights of criminals and those of ordinary citizens. This government is not about
to join the chorus baying for the death sentence or to reverse our human rights
gains. Yet, in addition to the measures we introduced regarding bail and
mandatory sentences we need to examine spaces that need tightening.

For instance, should interference with witnesses and murder of police-men and
women not attract very harsh mandatory sentences? What about the form and
content of evidence that should be given to defence attorneys in bail
applications? For it does not help for the police to do their work and for the
justice system to be efficient, if criminals will subvert investigations and
prosecution by violent and foul means.

These are just some of the issues that need to be addressed, along with, and
I should underline, "along with" the plodding industry on all fronts which will
take many years, to bring crime down to acceptable levels.

Let me also briefly reflect on recent developments in Cape Town. Without
presuming any organisation or individual guilty, there are some obvious things
that cannot be concealed.

Firstly, what started off expressly as a campaign against gangsterism has now
become a violent and murderous offensive against ordinary citizens and
law-enforcement agencies. Secondly, what is portrayed as moral and god-inspired
against oppression, exploitation and imperialism, has assumed the form of
terrorism to undercut Cape Town's lifeline and destabilise a democratic
government. Thirdly, what is undertaken as an expression of militancy, could now
very easily provide cover for right-wing counter-revolution against the new
South Africa.

This campaign is rotten to the core; it is misguided; and its attempts to
invoke religion is blasphemous. What South African indeed who owes loyalty to
this country and this continent, would engage in such callous deeds! What
fighter against crime would engage in a campaign that diverts resources of the
police from dealing with criminals!

I want to assure the people of Cape Town that we know who these people are;
we know who trains and backs them; and steadily we are building water-tight
cases against them that will ensure that they stay in jail for a long, long
time.

Let me reiterate: the battle against crime has been joined. And we have no
doubts at all about who the victors will be.

Madame Speaker;

There is hope too in the area of job-creation.

For a start, if economic growth last year and this year are less encouraging,
we are confident that this is an exception that confirms an otherwise upward
trend. Indeed, in this era of volatility, what we need to ask ourselves is why
South Africa did not experience the kind of paralysing turbulence that was the
lot of most countries at our level of development.

The answer is that our fundamentals are robust. Local and foreign fixed
investments are on the rise, though not at the pace we would prefer. Exports are
increasing; and in some areas of agriculture for instance, the increase has been
by as much as 1,000%.

Steadily, our economy is becoming more competitive. Telecommunications and
tourism are growing at an impressive rate; road construction and Spatial
Development Initiatives are expanding the economic base of regions that were
ignored in the past; public works programmes have created hundreds of thousands
of jobs, though some of them are temporary.

We have also taken impressive strides in the restructuring of state assets.
And let us remind ourselves that some of the successes in the provision of
services derive directly from this. We are determined to continue with this
programme; but to do it in a way that is systematic and professional, and
benefits the people as a whole. This includes widening the base of ownership,
among others, through the National Empowerment Fund.

South Africa did not experience what others did because we have credible and
sustainable fiscal and monetary policies combining discipline and flexibility.
Despite the difficulties that we have experienced, deriving from the global
economy, we have resolved that we shall not cut the social spending required to
build a better life for all, including the Poverty Relief Programme that now
runs into billions of rands.

While strict econometric models may require certain fractions for a balance
among indicators, we shall continue to discuss realistic inflation targets and
interest rates for a developing country like ours;.

We shall not divert from the course of discipline; nor shall we, as we said
last year, cut our noses in order to spite our faces.

Yet the public is within its rights to ask, if all is well, why is the
economy shedding jobs: is there hope?

Yes there is hope.

Many of the initiatives will take time to be felt in the lives of ordinary
people. But there are immediate things that can be done.

It was in recognition of this challenge, that representatives of government,
labour, business and communities came together last October to work out a
concrete programme of action around this challenge of job-creation. And we
emerged from there confident of the future because we set out to build it
together. Among the decisions taken there, some of them unprecedented in any
country, are:

  • Firstly, the proposal of the trade union movement to mobilise all working
    people to dedicate one day's pay to the projects meant to create jobs for our
    fellow citizens. And today I commit all ministers and deputy ministers in my
    government to take part in this initiative by contributing a day's gross
    salary. We hope that all levels of government, including parliament as well as
    public and private institutions will do the same.
  • Secondly, the mobilisation by the business community of funds which should
    run into more than R1-billion for special projects in tourism and skills
    development. We can take tourism beyond the impressive 8.2% of Gross Domestic
    Product that it has already achieved, to create hundreds of thousands of jobs.
  • Over the next few years, there will be a dramatic expansion of the
    existing R5 billion government package of labour intensive programmes such as
    Working for Water, Land Care, Municipal Infrastructure and selected Welfare
    projects. ÁƒÂƒÂ² One major project on housing has already started, where public and
    private funds will be pooled to start a process that will speed up housing
    delivery at the same time as it creates jobs.
  • The Umsobomvu Trust, which will be worth over a billion rand, and which is
    aimed at creating jobs, learnerships and business opportunities among the
    youth is one among projects many of which have been proposed by the youth
    themselves.

Together these major initiatives have the potential to change the face of
South Africa. And if we say there is hope, in so far as job-creation is
concerned, it is because we know that all the partners have put shoulders to the
wheel to ensure that we succeed.

In this context, we should reflect on our achievements regarding the
regulation of the labour market. I refer here to the Labour Relations, Basic
Conditions of Employment and Employment Equity Acts among others. Liberation
could not have meant otherwise to a working class that was divided by racial
laws and sections of which were blocked by edict from advancing in the
work-place.

We cannot retreat from this achievement in human rights. That our trade union
movement has initiated the kind of contribution to job-creation that I referred
to, is testimony to the responsibility that goes with a sense of social
belonging.

Notwithstanding these achievements, if indeed job-creation and ending poverty
are among our primary challenges, we must continually evaluate how our labour
market policies and the rate of private investments, among others, facilitate
the realisation of these objectives. This we must do in order to ensure that we
achieve our common objectives.

This hope that we have about the future, Honourable Members and Delegates,
derives also from the knowledge that this government is serious about utilising
state structures for the benefit of the people. And this applies not only to the
national sphere.

if in the past, the profile of provincial government was portrayed more in
the mistakes they made; it is perhaps a reflection of great improvement in their
work, in the context of South Africa's news content, that little is heard about
most of them in the media.

We referred earlier to management of the Matric results, some improvement in
the supply of text-books, and the management of social security grants. In
addition to all this, shouldn't we all be proud as South Africans that only two
years after the introduction of mass allocations of funds to provinces, we are
able to achieve fewer overdrafts and deficits! This is not merely a stroke of
good fortune. It is a result of hard work; and congratulations go to these
public representatives and administrations.

Last year, we spoke of the need to cut expenditure on personnel, as part of
reducing a bloated civil service and changing its orientation. That commitment
remains. The new civil service regulations based on each individual's output,
especially management, rather than just observance of rules, should see to the
improvement of service to the public.

Much progress has been made towards comprehensive agreement on redeployment
and retrenchment. Logically, this must be based on assessment of public needs
and on the very objective of governance. But let us emphasise that, none of the
parties in these negotiations will or should be allowed to use these processes
to delay decisive action on this issue.

Within local government, there is steady progress in regularising finances,
in implementing poverty-based assistance, in setting up mechanisms reduce the
number of councils. And there is now seldom need for national interventions to
resolve unnecessary conflict between these structures and traditional leaders.

But we must be honest and acknowledge that, in many respects, this level of
government has often played itself out as an Achilles Heel of democratic
governance. This is not for the lack of structures and rules. Where this
happens, it has more to do with the behaviour and attitudes of cadres that all
parties have deployed in these structures. It is a matter of the survival of
democracy, of the confidence that people will have in the new system, that all
of us should pay particular attention to this issue. The public is justified in
demanding better service, more respect and greater concern for their needs
rather than self-aggrandisement.

Our hope for the future depends also on our resolution as a nation in dealing
with the scourge of corruption. Success will require an acceptance that, in many
respects, we are a sick society.

It is perfectly correct to assert that all this was spawned by apartheid. No
amount of self-induced amnesia will change this reality of history.

But it is also a reality of the present that among the new cadres in various
levels of government, you find individuals who are as corrupt as - if not more
than - those they found in government. When a leader in a Provincial Legislature
siphons off resources meant to fund service by legislators to the people; when
employees of a government institution set up to help empower those who were
excluded by apartheid defraud it for their own enrichment, then we must admit
that we are a sick society.

This problem manifests itself in all areas of life. More often than not, it
is business people who launder funds to curry favour with public servants; it is
ordinary citizens who seek to buy themselves out of trouble; it is strange
religious leaders who sing praises to criminals or hoard land acquired by the
foul means of apartheid. All of us must work together for our redemption.

Many mechanisms have been put in place or strengthened to investigate and
ensure proper punishment for these vile deeds: the Public Protector, the Heath
Commission, the Auditor-General, the Office for Serious Economic Offences, to
name but a few. Within government, more resources are being provided to allow
them to do their work.

And very practical resolutions emerged from the Public Sector Anti-corruption
Summit held last November.

By the time we go to the National Summit in March, which will be informed by
the decisions of the Religious Morals Summit and the Public Sector Conference,
all sectors of society, including business and the trade union movement, should
have worked out concrete proposals to take this matter forward in a visible and
meaningful way. It is commendable that the Public Service Bargaining Chamber has
this week agreed on drafting new disciplinary mechanisms to facilitate dealing
with cases of corruption, mismanagement and incompetence. Our nation needs, as
matter of urgency, what one writer has called an "RDP of the Soul".

When we succeed in changing our own way of doing things, when we make
progress in transforming society at all levels, we shall not only be improving
our own quality of life. We shall also be laying the basis for a future of hope
for our children and grandchildren.

We know too well that, if there is a problem of unemployment, it is the youth
who bear the brunt of it. If there are high incidences of crime, it is the youth
who are misused as foot-soldiers and consumers of illegal substances. If there
is corruption and lack of morality, it is they who suffer a warped upbringing.
If we do not rid ourselves of the culture of violence, it is the youth who will
be infected with it.

It is therefore encouraging that youth organisations have started to play a
more visible role in initiatives such as the Jobs Summit and community service.
We value the increasingly powerful role they are starting to play in the
critical campaign against HIVIAIDS. They do have the capacity to make a special
contribution to breaking the silence which fuels this epidemic; as we shall all
be doing during the coming National Condom Week when we focus on prevention.

This leadership role by the youth reinforces my own hope in the future of our
country and our nation. And I wish to, all on all the youth of our country, in
their millions, to recognise their civic duty in all spheres of life, including
taking part in exercising their right to elect a government of their choice.

Madame Speaker;

I referred at the beginning to the letters written by a notorious prisoner.
In one of them, he said:

"I am disturbed, as many other South Africans no doubt are, by the spectre
of a South Africa split into two hostile camps: blacks on one side... and
whites on the other, slaughtering one another; by acute tensions which are
building up dangerously in practically every sphere of our lives. . ."

As I said earlier, we have collectively managed the transition in a
commendable manner.

But it is matter of public record that elements of these divisions remain. We
slaughter one another in our words and attitudes. We slaughter one another in
the stereotypes and mistrust that linger in our heads, and the words of hate we
spew from our lips. We slaughter one another in the responses that some of us
give to efforts aimed at bettering the lives of the poor We slaughter one
another and our country by the manner in which we exaggerate its weaknesses to
the wider world, heroes of the gab who astound their foreign associates by their
self-flagellation. This must come to an end. For, indeed, those who thrive on
hatred destroy their own capacity to make a positive contribution.

To the extent that the apprehensions about the meaning of democracy relate to
real fears about matters such as language and culture, we are proud that
progress is being made towards the establishment of the Commission on these and
other issues so that all can feel secure as part of a united nation.

To the extent that some of the apprehensions are imagined or based on
opposition to change, to that extent we are convinced that history will be the
best teacher.

We hope though, especially as we go into the election campaign, that real
leaders will emerge who base their messages on hope rather than fear; on the
optimism of hard work rather than the pessimism of arm-chair whining.

Dealing with these challenges also means accepting the facts of our history.
As I said when I received the TRC Interim Report last October, the government
accepts it with its imperfections. We recognise that it is not a definitive or
comprehensive history of the period it was reviewing; neither was it a court of
law. It was an important contribution on the way to truth and reconciliation.

The critical act of reconciliation, to come back to the letters I referred to
earlier, is the dismantling of what remains of apartheid practices and
attitudes. Reconciliation, without this major step, will be transient, the ode
of false hope on the lips of fools.

It will therefore be critical, that when we go into the detail of the TRC
report's recommendations in the coming period, we must elaborate concrete plans
about how together we can make practical contributions. This applies
particularly to reparations, not so much to individuals, but to communities and
the nation as a whole.

Let me reiterate that we shall all assist that process of nation-building and
reconciliation, reconstruction and development, by protecting the institutions
which guarantee the checks and balances that make social and political
aberrations impossible. Our word of acknowledgement to the Human Rights
Commission, the Gender Commission and others for the sterling work they are
doing to strengthen democracy.

We should also underline that, while it is a matter of design rather than
accident, that our social programmes for the poor impact most significantly on
the lives of women, this is but a small element in dealing with gender
relations. Need we remind ourselves that the greatest number of violent crimes
that we have referred to take place in the home and mostly against women! Need
we remind ourselves of the various forms of discrimination that still exist in
the work-place, schools, places of worship and other social activity!

But we should also derive pride that, never in the history of this country
has any government done so much to improve the status of women - black and
white: and this, with their active participation!

The institution of the independent judiciary has been throughout these first
years of our freedom been a fundamental pillar of our democracy. And it
continues to be.

It is matter of great pride that we have established a dispensation in which
no-one, not even the President, is above the law. And for this, we owe thanks to
the men and women of integrity who serve in this institution.

Another pillar of our democracy is the Independent Electoral Commission; and
we respect it as we do all the others. Like all other such bodies, it is being
assisted in various ways in accordance with the mission set out in the
constitution, and what the country can afford. I should indicate that, after
rational discussion, agreement was reached that the IEC should be allocated more
than R160-million in additional funds, in the coming budget year, further to
enable it to fulfil its functions. For the work that it has done to register
potential voters, the IEC deserves our encouragement.

But it is you the citizen who has to come out voluntarily to register and
take part in South Africa's governance. We urge those who have not registered to
do so without delay. Democracy needs your voice.

Because of the impediment placed before us by some of the parties in this
parliament, I am unable to formally announce the election date. It is the
insistence that we retain the option, contained in the constitution, for
Premiers to announce their own election dates - and not any reluctance on the
part of the President - that this matter cannot be settled here and now.

I am however able to give the indication, after extensive consultations, that
we aim to select a day for our second national election in the period between
the 18th and 27th of May.

Honourable Members and Delegates;

If we dare ourselves to succeed in this endeavour, it is because the benefit
will be primarily ours. But there is a sense in which it will be for all
humanity, the majority of whom took part in efforts to help us achieve our
democracy.

Naturally, Southern Africa is our most critical point of reference. As we
progress towards social and economic integration in the region, we are guided by
the need to reverse the legacy of our past in the form of a trade balance skewed
in South Africa's favour.

The re-negotiation of the Southern African Customs Union and the progress
towards a SADC free trade area, slow as they may seem to outside observers, are
making progress along a path that is rneaningful and sustainable. Amongst the
many concrete symbols of the integrated reconstruction of our region is the
progress towards the establishment of a Southern African Electricity Power Pool
co-ordinated from Harare, which will also augment the region's power from the
rehabilitated Cahora Bassa project.

These firm steps towards integration are part of the renewal of our
continent, an African Renaissance campaign which is growing to become a
continental movement.

Our celebration of the millennium must reinforce this campaign and draw our
artists, intellectuals and journalists more actively into this enterprise.
Sports events such as the Africa Games in Greater Johannesburg this Spring, and
the African Cup of Nations in Zimbabwe next year, should form part of this
celebration of Africa's rebirth.

Fundamental to our success in generating this rebirth is to root out the
causes of conflicts which are ravaging parts of the continent.

It is with great concern that we see Angola once more threatened with all-out
war. We do ask ourselves whether the time has not come to draw basic lessons
from this experience: to pose the question whether the United Nations' approach
has been what is required of a situation in which one party rejects the results
of a free and fair election.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we do welcome the growing
realisation that political inclusivity in transition is one of the solutions
required. There can be no winner in the military contest; there can only be
untold suffering to the African people.

Further afield, we remain hopeful that the protracted conflicts and the
terrible suffering of civilians in countries such as Sierra Leone, Somalia and
the Sudan will be brought to an end.

And looking beyond our continent, we join all humanity in calling for a
speedy resolution of the problems in the Middle East and in East Timor.

If I may I would like to say a few brief words on Lesotho. There is no doubt
that SADC's collective initiative succeeded in creating the space for this
country's political leaders to find a peaceful resolution of their differences;
and we ought to take this opportunity to congratulate the Botswana and South
African Defence Forces on their decisive contribution; and to pay tribute to
those who lost their lives.

We wish to assure members of our Defence Force that the nation is behind them
in their endeavours: be it in the fight against crime, in peace-keeping
operations or in their calm and professional assistance to voter registration.
We remain as committed as ever to equip the Force in a manner that ensures its
effectiveness and adds value to the economy.

The building of our region and the renewal of our continent, to which we have
referred, in turn form part of the broader movement of developing countries to
eradicate poverty and overcome the historical imbalances between North and
South.

The successful Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Durban last year has brought
South Africa the opportunity to assist in asserting the interests of the
developing world on serious issues facing humanity.

Amongst the most pressing of these is the debt burden as well as the need to
bring under control the vast movements of capital which wash across the globe
without much social benefit, and with the capacity to undo years of
industrialisation where it is most urgently needed.

The initiatives under discussion to manage these rampant effects of
globalisation, including unfair protectionist measures in some industrialised
countries, require the reform of Bretton Woods institutions, and even more
critically, the United Nations Security Council, in conformity with the
democratic ethos of our age. We are encouraged that more and more nations are
starting to recognise not only the need for this, but its urgency as well.

We are proud as a country that over the last four-and-half years, we have
broadened our relations with developing countries of Asia - now the second
largest bloc with whom we trade - as well as Latin America across the Atlantic.
Our strategic location places us well to act as a bridge linking these two
important regions and the African continent.

We scarcely need to add that this burgeoning of our links with the countries
of the South is not in opposition to the our relations with Japan, the United
States, Europe, including Russia, or the new strategic partnership we are
building with the People's Republic of China. On the contrary, they serve to
enlarge the possibilities for truly equitable partnerships of mutual benefit to
all our peoples.

For a country that not many years ago was the polecat of the world, South
Africa has truly undergone a revolution in its relations with the international
community. The doors of the world have opened to South Africa, precisely because
of our success in achieving things that humanity as a whole holds dear. Of this
we should be proud.

Madame Speaker;

As we reflect on the years of transition and beginnings of transformation, we
have cause to draw inspiration from what South Africans can do. We dare to hope
for a brighter future, because we are prepared to work for it. The steady
progress of the past few years has laid the foundation for greater achievements.
But the reality is that we can do much, much better.

In the discussions that I have had with Deputy President Mbeki, we have posed
to ourselves the question whether we should be satisfied with steady progress.
Is South Africa not capable of breaking out of the current pace and moving much
faster to a better life?

As the Deputy President has often said, the policies we have accord with the
needs of the moment. There is no need to change them. Yet the speed and style of
implementing them can be improved. There are a few ingredients to this that need
further attention. To elaborate on some of them:

The first ingredient is Partnership: If we examine the major successes that
have been made this year in addressing the most serious problems we face, one
factor stands out above all others: and that is partnership among various
sectors of society. The Jobs Summit, the new AIDS Awareness Campaign, the
summits on morality and corruption, and the issue of security in the farming
communities are concrete examples from recent months. So too was last year's
successful Masakhane Focus Week. And it is in this spirit that we shall on
Freedom Day announce this year's winners of the President's Award for Community
Initiative.

These initiatives have resulted in major advances, as society mobilises
hand-in-hand with government, to tackle the issues head on. As such, one of the
launching pads to faster progress has to be the mobilisation of South African
society to act in unison on critical issues facing the nation.

The second element is Discipline - the balance between freedom and
responsibility: Quite clearly, there is something wrong with a society where
freedom is interpreted to mean that teachers or students get to school drunk;
warders chase away management and appoint their own friends to lead
institutions; striking workers resort to violence and destruction of property;
business-people lavish money in court cases simply to delay implementation of
legislation they do not like; and tax evasion turns individuals into heroes of
dinner-table talk.

Something drastic needs to be done about this. South African society - in its
schools and universities, in the work-place, in sports, in professional work and
all areas of social interaction - needs to infuse itself with a measure of
discipline, a work ethic and responsibility for the actions we undertake.

Thirdly, and related to the above is the question of reconstruction of the
soul of the nation, "the RDP of the Soul": by this we mean first and foremost
respect for life; pride and self-respect as South Africans rather than the
notion that we can thrive in senseless self-flagellation.

It means asserting our collective and individual identity as Africans,
committed to the rebirth of the continent; being respectful of other citizens
and honouring women and children of our country who are exposed to all kinds of
domestic violence and abuse. It means building our schools into communities of
learning and improvement of character. It means mobilising one another, and not
merely waiting for government to clean our streets or for funding allocations to
plant trees and tend school-yards.

These are things that we need to embrace as a nation that is nurturing its
New Patriotism. They constitute an important environment for bringing up future
generations. They are about the involvement of South Africans in building a
better life.

Thus we shall take not just small steps, but giant leaps to a bright future
in a new millennium. As we confounded the prophets of doom, we shall defy
today's merchants of cynicism and despair. We shall, as we said in those letters
of ten years ago, fully dismantle apartheid and achieve true reconciliation. Our
hopes will become reality.

The foundation has been laid - the building is in progress. With a new
generation of leaders and a people that rolls up its sleeves in partnerships for
change, we can and shall build the country of our dreams!

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
COMMUNICATIONS
communications@po.gov.za
Tel:
(021) 464-2100; Fax: (021) 464-2229
Tel: (012) 319-1500; Fax: (012)
323-6080

Last updated : 31-Mar-2011

This article was produced by South African History Online on 31-Mar-2011

Support South African History Online

Donate and Make African History Matter

South African History Online is a non profit organisation. We depend on public support to build our website into the most comprehensive educational resource and encyclopaedia on African history.

Your support will help us to build and maintain partnerships with educational institutions in order to strengthen teaching, research and free access to our content.



Donate.