Item 1149 - Remarks by ANC President Nelson Mandela on the National Press Club

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ZA COM MR-S-1149


Remarks by ANC President Nelson Mandela on the National Press Club


  • 1991-12-05 (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 Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare

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The National Press Club

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  • English

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This morning I met President George Bush, and we had a friendly and constructive discussion. And I was impressed by
his interest in the political situation in the country as well as it’s the state and future of its economy.

President Bush and I have been in regular contact since I was here in June-July last year, and we have exchanged views on a number of issues: South African problems and international questions. And that contact gave me the opportunity to have an idea of the thinking of the President on all the questions that we discussed.

I took the opportunity of our meeting this morning to brief him on the latest political developments in the country. In particular, I briefed him about the convention -- on the Convention for a democratic South Africa which is going to be held on the 20th and 21st of this month.

That convention will discuss a number of critical issues in our effort for the democratization of our country's political institutions. The matters on the agenda will be the principles upon which a democratic South Africa will be based and that the focal point being the demand for one person/one vote in a common voter's role.

Secondly, the question of an interim government, that is the mechanism which you have identified for supervising the transformation from an apartheid state to a non-racial democracy. The demand for an interim government is very important because of the one question of sanctions -- the lifting of sanctions -- is tied to the development of the political process and in particular to the installation of an interim government.

One of our obstacles -- one of the obstacles to mapping out a way forward to a democratic society in our country is the regime itself of Mr. De Klerk. It has become the main obstacle because it has neither legitimacy nor credibility, and the overwhelming demand is for the immediate installation of art interim government to supervise this transformation. And the whole group of sanctions, the whole question of the lifting of this group of sanctions is-tied to the installation of art interim government, that is, diplomatic sanctions, gold coins, trade, trade credits, and financial sanctions. It is therefore in the interest of not only South Africa but of the West in particular that this government should be installed as soon as possible. Because we -- (inaudible) -- that the western world in particular should be able to invest in our country so that our country can grow and be able to eliminate the unacceptable high level of unemployment.

In a population of about 30 million, we have no less than seven million who are unemployed, and that is why we are very (keen ?) to have investments 50 that our country could have a flourishing economy in due course.

The third issue that we are going to discuss is that the mechanism which should be used for the purpose of identifying the persons who will be given the task of drawing up a new constitution, and that this is what we call a Constituent Assembly, where the masses of the people will be able to mandate those people in whom they have confidence to draw up a constitution.

Fourthly, the convention will discuss the question of the reincorporation of the Bantustans. As you know, one of the steps taken by the regime was to dismember the country and to give each tribal group a particular portion of land in which as they said, they could rule themselves. We opposed that from the beginning, and we are insisting on the reincorporation of these states and that this will be a fourth matter which will be discussed. Then, there is the question of time frames for these constitutional steps which I have outlined.

We are anxious that we should reach agreement on these issues as soon as possible. Then, there is the question of the violence which has been raging since 1984 and in which 11,000 people have been slaughtered. We are keen to resolve this matter so that there should be free political activity in the country.

And then, finally, we propose to discuss the role of the international community. We attach a great importance to this portion because the progress that was made in order to reach the present position where everybody is confident that fundamental changes in our country are in the pipeline. We would not have reached this position had it not been for the combination of internal and external pressure on the regime, and we are keen, therefore, that the international community should be fully represented in this convention cm the 20th and 21st of this month. In pursuance of that objective, we have invited the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity, the non-aligned movement, the EEC and the Commonwealth to attend this convention so that they should have the opportunity of themselves witnessing the progress which will be made. Towards a transformation from an apartheid state to a non-racial society.

And there is a unity amongst the major political organizations in the country. The ANC has been able to rally almost every shade of political opinion so that we can speak with one voice on these important issues which I have identified. And we are hoping that that convention will constitute a milestone in our quest for a democratic South Africa. It gives an opportunity to all the people of South Africa to be involved in determining the future of this country.

Then, before we take some Questions, there are two more points which -- by the way, I briefed the President on all these issues- But there are two more questions which I raised with him, and that is the question of the Solarz and Dellums initiative in which they have proposed that the United States of America should now look into the question of providing funds in order to help in this process of democratization in South Africa. And it is arc initiative which we think the United States should be interested in, because unless we have the capacity of mobilizing the country on this process. It is going to be difficult for us to have the impact which we think we ought to have as the major organization which has initiated the peace process.

And then secondly, there is the initiative of Mr. Peter Goldmark (sp) of the Rockefeller Foundation. When I was here last year, he suggested the formation of a development bank which will be able to operate in post-apartheid South Africa in order to develop our economy. We have accepted that offer, and written to the G-7 and asked them to support this initiative. We discussed the matter with President Bush this morning, and he showed a great deal of interest.

And we are convinced that if there is progress in these regards, in these two respects, that will put us in a position to speed the process towards a democratic South Africa. These are the issues which we discussed with the President. And I come out of this meeting full of confidence and hope that we are seeing eye to eye with the President on a number of points.

We of course also discussed the question of the economy in our country. As you know. There's a great deal of concern over our policy of nationalization. And I explained to him once again. As I did last year, that we are in favour of a market economy. We are in favour of the system of free enterprise. But we feel it is important for a measure of state intervention in order to redress the glaring economic imbalances in our country.

And I went further to say that the whole question of nationalization was determined when we published our basic policy document, the Freedom Charter, way back in 1955, that since then perceptions have changed about nationalization. And although this still remains our official policy, we are looking into the question and are discussing with business people in our country and outside to look for an alternative because we realize the importance of ensuring investors that they have nothing to fear from investing in our country. And this is a question which we are discussing.

As a matter of fact, in March next year we are going to have a national conference on economic issues in which this -- our policy -- is going to be re-examined in the light of the concerns which have been expressed by business people in our country and abroad. And these are the issues, then, which formed the subject of discussion with the President. Thank you.

MS. KAHLER: Would you tell us in more detail how Mr. Bush responded to your briefing?

MR. MANDELA: Just a moment please. (Pause.)

MS. KAHLER: Would you tell us in more detail how Mr. Bush responded to your briefing?

MR. MANDELA: Well, as I pointed out, Mr. Bush responded positively. But, of course, on questions such as the Solarz-Dellums initiative, and also the question of the Development Bank, these are matters in which one would expect him to have intensive consultations with members of his government. Although he responded positively, but of course, he made no commitments. I have no doubt in my mind -- my assessment is that he is going to give this matter serious attention.

MS. KAHLER: What assurance did you receive from the President that the US will continue to pressure South African authorities to continue reforms?

MR. MANDELA: Well, one thing is clear, that the American government is deadly opposed to apartheid and any form of racial discrimination. That is perfectly clear. And he makes that very clear every time we meet, and every time we have a conversation by telephone. And I have no doubt in my mind that this is the position.

There are, of course, differences on the question of how we should tackle the question of apartheid. And -- but those are differences which -- on which we are constantly exchanging opinion.

But I believe that he is exacting pressure on De Klerk to speed up the reform process and we urged that this morning.

Q What do you see as the biggest obstacle to the kind of democratic system you want in South Africa?

MR. MANDELA: Well, very simple. It is the De Klerk regime, because it is a minority regime without credibility, without legitimacy. And that is why we are demanding the installation of an interim government of national unity which can be seen by the masses of our people that this is a government which represents all South Africans without discrimination.

And one of the points that we made to President Bush is that as the West has insisted, is insisting that Africa and Eastern Europe should democratize their political institutions, and we are therefore expecting that they will use the same strong pressure on the South African regime to speed up the process of democratization, and the starting point is the installation of an interim government, and of course the agreement on a constituent assembly which will elect the individuals who will draw up a new constitution.

Q How do you and the ANC expect to attract foreign investment to a post-apartheid South Africa to provide jobs for the unemployed, while still talking about nationalization?

MR. MANDELA: Well, I have already dealt with this question, that we are looking into it. We have actually issued a draft policy document which we have circulated to all influential parties in the country, economic and otherwise, to call for suggestions as to how -- and to look to address this question.

One of our problems is that there is a glaring unequal distribution of resources in our country. Just as an illustration and an example which we have oft quoted from time to time, 97 percent of the land is owned by a minority, by whites. Only 13 percent is available to the majority. You can't rectify that imbalance merely by investing. It cannot be rectified merely by growth of the economy. You require a measure of state intervention to ensure that land is equitably. There is also a very prominent authority in our country who has published a book in which he states that 75 percent of the shares quoted on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange are owned by four conglomerates.

Now, you can go through the various sectors of our economy, you will find this imbalance. How does one address the question of rectifying these imbalances without state intervention? Although we fully accept a market economy, but "a measure of state intervention, as has happened in the United States of America and elsewhere, is absolutely essential.

In fact, in our country you have numerous examples of state intervention of areas of the economy which -- enterprises which are owned by the state, and which were introduced precisely for the purpose of addressing the question, for exorable, of the poverty of certain sections of the white population. The state had to intervene in order to provide employment for people, and to give opportunity to companies, mainly of a particular group, to compete with other companies, other conglomerates. It's a measure which has been used universally, and it's a measure which we also propose to use.

But I want to stress again that we are well aware of the concern over nationalization, both by investors inside and outside our country, and we are addressing that question.

MS. KAHLER: Do you see any contradiction in seeking financial assistance for South Africa and discussing investment with corporations while you call for continued sanctions? Please explain.

MR. MANDELA: No, there is no contradiction at all. We asked the international community to apply sanctions in order to induce the government to dismantle apartheid, and also to give the vote to all South Africans irrespective of their colour.

Sanctions are an .instrument in the quest to democratize the political institutions of the country, and unless that goal has been attained, our view is that sanctions should be maintained. And we are aware of how they affect the living standards of the population, both black and white. Nevertheless, this is the price white South Africa must be prepared to pay for having denied the majority of the population basic human rights to which they are entitled. But we are taking the initiative because we are greatly concerned about the damage which the sanctions are causing to our economy.

We have come out with a compromise, a phased lifting of sanctions, phase one, phase two, phase three. Phase one is based on the removal of the obstacles to negotiations, like the unbanning of political organizations, the lifting of the state of emergency, the dismantling of apartheid and we have therefore recommended that this group of sanctions in phase one, like tourism, airlines, visas, we have recommended that they should now be lifted and this has been accepted, for example, by the Commonwealth, the British Commonwealth.

And phase two includes the sanctions which I have already outlined to you, and we are saying that as soon as an interim government is introduced rod, those sanctions will be lifted and we are pragmatic about the whole situation and I can assure you that we see no contradiction between calling for investments and the maintenance of sanctions because we are asking for investments in a post-apartheid South Africa, not today.

MS. KAHLER: Factional fighting is a serious problem in your country. Will you please explain the role of the South African government in this violence and how the US can help to alleviate this tragic situation?

MR. MANDELA: We have raised this question expressly with President Bush, and our standpoint, without going into details, is that the de Klerk regime has either lost control over the security forces, or the security forces, the state security forces are doing what Mr. de Klerk wants them to do. That is our message.

MS. KAHLER: What affect will the violence have on the negotiating process?

MR. MANDELA:. On the 14th of September this year various political organizations including the ruling National Party signed a peace accord and we pledged ourselves to work together to put an end to this violence. Not only that, but we have outlined mechanisms for the purpose of putting an end to this violence. These mechanisms are being applied now and we sincerely hope that if all political organizations and state security forces cooperate in applying these mechanisms, we will be able to bring violence to en end in due course.

MS. KAHLER: When you were released, you startled Americans by not renouncing violence and by praising Castro. In retrospect, do you think your remarks were ill-considered? Please explain.

MR. MANDELA: Well, I think the misconception to say I did not condemn violence, I did so. I held a meeting in Durban, attended according to the press by 120,000 people in which I expressly called upon our people to throw their weapons of death to the sea. And I called for cooperation between the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party of Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi so that we can together address the question of violence.

I had earlier, in February 1989, before I was released from prison, I had written a lengthy letter to Chief Buthelezi, the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party and expressed a grave concern about the raging violence and recommended to him that he should go and see President Oliver Tambo in Lusaka so that they can discuss the whole question of measures to end the violence.

So it is an [in]correct perception that I never condemned violence, and I have done that throughout the period in which I have been active since I was released from prison.

What was the second point?

Q Castro.

MR. MANDELA: Oh, I see, Castro. Well, you must -- one of the things that you must realize is that your enemies are not our enemies. Please realize that, because if you don't, you will have false percept ions. No man of principle -- I repeat -- no man of principle will denounce his friends, his allies, people who came out to assist you at a time when nobody else was ready to assist you. No man of principle would ever forget his friends.

Now, when we decided to resort to armed struggle, we went 'round the West approaching governments and asking them -- in an attempt to ask them to assist us. We could not even interview a junior clerk. Governments were not interested in us at all.

But when we went to Cuba, they immediately received us with open arms and gave us the means to conduct the struggle. You were uninterested in our situation at that time. Why are you evincing such interest now, so much so as to say that those people who help you when we are riot prepared to help you -- you should have nothing to do with them. I'm sure you would never do that yourselves. Why do you expect us to do such a treacherous thing and denounce those people who enabled us to carry on the struggle until the West was able also to join in and assist us? Please, do not call upon us to do anything which will be a blot against our own standards of morality. No person of principle could ever do what you are calling upon us to do.

MS. KAHLER: Beyond reforms in South Africa, how do you think real reconciliation among races and factions can occur?

MR. MANDELA: What I have told you now, that 19 political organizations in the country have agreed to hold this convention, means that the spirit of reconciliation is being accepted universally. I might tell you that among these parties are political parties which through all these years have been working in political structures which were set up by the regime. We then condemned them as sell-outs, as traitors. And in the process we drove them right into the arms of the regime.

We have changed that, and we have now asked them to work with us, and they are doing that. That is part of the spirit of reconciliation which we are working for'. And we are succeeding very well in that regard.

MS. KAHLER: Is your opinion of the US changed by the candidacy of David Duke for President?

We look at the United States from the point of view of their attitude towards our problems. One of the changes which have come together with the presidency of Mr. George Bush, is that we are in constant consultation on problems which face us, and on problems which are mutual to both of us and that determines our attitude. What happens inside the United States of America is an affair for the people of the United States. We are prepared to be guided by you, but the attitude of the President is one that is constructive and that is positive, and that determines our attitude.

MS. KAHLER: Alan Boesak was recently named to head ANC recruitment in the Western Cape. Is his appointment a reflection of the concern by your party that it faces major difficulties in gaining political support among the so called "coloureds" and other minorities?

MR. MANDELA: That is one of the considerations, because the coloureds, as a minority are very much concerned about majority rule. In spite of the fact that we have made clear that we are just as opposed to black domination as we are opposed to white domination, we are nevertheless the majority and the prospect of a majority being represented in the political institutions of the country in proportion to their numbers is a matter that has caused a bit of anxiety and concern to the minorities of the country, and it -- and then of course leaders of some of these minorities have been very much involved in apartheid. They have been members of apartheid institutions and they have benefitted as individuals from apartheid. And of course, the scrapping, the dismantling of apartheid is a matter of grave concern to them, but we are now addressing that question.

And the election of Mr. Boesak as the leader of the Western Cape region is also influenced by that, but the dominating factor, the real reason for the election of Dr. Boesak is his ability and the high esteem in which he is held not only by the coloured community but by Africans, Indians and the progressive sections of the white community in the country.

MS. KAHLER: What happens if the All African Congress talks break down?

MR. MANDELA: We are very optimistic. The success of the preparatory meeting which took place during the last weekend, on a Friday and Saturday, shows us that we have nothing to fear from this convention because we were able to sort out and agree on very sensitive problems, and there is no reason therefore, why we should be pessimistic about the debates, the discussions which are going to take place on the 20th and the 21st of this month.

MS. KAHLER: Unfortunately we have to end now. If you need
additional information regarding Mr. Mandela's schedule, please contact McKinney and McDowell Associates here in Washington at 462-8197.

MR. MANDELA: Thank you.

MS. KAHLER: Thank you.

MR. MANDELA: Thank you very much, great to be here. (Applause)


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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 18/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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