Item 1184 - Introducing Dr Nelson Mandela to the AWEPA-EC Presidency Conference

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ZA COM MR-S-1184


Introducing Dr Nelson Mandela to the AWEPA-EC Presidency Conference


  • 1993-10-07 - 1993-10-08 (7-8 October 1993)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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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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  • English

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Introducing Dr. Mandela to this audience is for sure a wholly superfluous endeavour. In Belgium and Europe, the members of Awepa have been at the forefront of the fight against this unacceptable and inhuman policy called Apartheid - a word, unfortunately borrowed from my own language. Dr. Mandela personifies the often overlooked dignity of the African continent.

Dr. Mandela, you refused to bow your head after 27 years of political imprisonment and your unbroken spirit, your leadership and unembittered attitude made the start of peaceful negotiations possible to prepare for a democratic non-racial South Africa.

Thirty years ago, at the Rivonia conspirators trial, you ended your statement from the dock with these words :

"I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

Thirty years later this same statement is still the reflection of your thoughts and ideas, your unwavering hopes and aspirations. It is because of this steadfast march towards a single and high principled goal that we welcome you cordially and proudly in our midst.

In the name of the Belgian government I welcome you on this first official visit to Belgium.

Two places in this troubled world give hope for a better future. Thanks to the personal courage of a small amount of people, a historic breakthrough has occurred in the relations between Israel and the Palestinian people, paving the way for a peaceful and stable Middle East. The other breakthrough that we are witnessing today, is taking place in South Africa. A breakthrough which might prove to be a turning point for Africa itself, a continent at stake.

We have been following with intense interest the ongoing negotiations at Kempton Park. With preoccupation also, because of the growing levels of violence and the dramatic economic situation which make a negotiated settlement more and more urgent - for there is no other acceptable alternative. We see with great concern that some of the negotiating parties have withdrawn from the process and are even threatening with civil war if some of their demands are not met. Going back on the considerable progress since the negotiators met for the first time at the end of 1991,is impossible, and the general principles accepted for a new and democratic constitution as well as the dates for holding the first non-racial elections seem absolutely irreversĀ¬ible. We hope that the Transitional Executive Council, the Independent Electoral Commission and the Independent Media Commission will all be in place and operational very soon so that the preparation for the democratic elections can go ahead in time, as planned.

Just like in the Middle East peace process, the international community has the firm intention to spare no effort to back the transition in South Africa contributing, at South Africa's side, to overcome a possible severe institutional, social and economic crisis.

It is a happy coincidence that the ANC delegation, led by its President Dr. Mandela, is visiting Belgium at the time that my country has the responsibility of the Presidency of the European Community. It is principally through the EC that Belgium and the other EC countries have over the years expressed their support for a profound political transition from the system of Apartheid to a non-racial democracy. The European Community's Special Program for South Africa was introduced in 1985 and has since then committed over 250 million ECU (950 millions South African Rand), in South Africa' for the support of more than 550 individual projects. During 1993, the EC is committing 90 million ECU (341 million Rand) to development in South Africa, making the Community's contribution the biggest of any single overseas aid donor in South Africa. The primary objective of the Special Program is to assist the transition to a peaceful, stable, democratic, non-racial and prosperous South Africa. It includes projects which seek to promote a culture of political tolerance, democratic values and the practice of good governance. It is the largest programmable development initiative ever implemented in a single country by the EC. Its operation is exceptional in terms of EC overseas development assistance in that all funds under the Special Program are administered in South Africa by a distinctive partnership of non-governmental organizations : the South African Council of Churches, the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, the Kagiso Trust, and the trade unions, the latter being channelled through the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

The Kagiso Trust, an independent development agency, remains the European Community's main partner in the implementation of the Special Program. The Kagiso Trust grew directly out of the establishment of the EC Special Program in 1986. It is undoubtedly the South African development organization best known in Belgium. Its trustees were received in 1990 at the Royal Palace by His Majesty, the late King Baudouin and by Queen Fabiola to be presented with the International King Baudouin Prize for Development Work. King Baudouin had a special interest for South Africa, as you certainly know. His Majesty had always hoped to meet you Dr. Mandela, since your release from prison. We are saddened that this encounter could not take place. The fact that his successor, His Majesty King Albert II, will receive you tomorrow indicates clearly that our new Head of State has the intention to continue to follow closely the developments towards a new and democratic South Africa.

Violence is at the present the major enemy for progress in the peace negotiation in South Africa. The European Community and its member states have sent a 22 person observer mission, called ECOMSA, to South Africa to work with the National Peace Accord in observing and monitoring conflict and violence in South Africa, alongside United Nations and OUA-observers.

The European Community is looking forward to the establishment of a Transitional Executive Council, considering this as one of the major important steps towards majority rule. For the first time in the history of South Africa a kind of governmental forum with representatives of the majority of the population will come into being. The EC is planning to enter into a dialogue with the Transitional Executive Council on development matters, including support for the election process and on the future economic relations between the Community and South Africa. Indeed, beyond aid the EC intends to focus on the nature of the future EC-South Africa trade regime, since this will impact more substantially on the prospects for economic growth and redistribution. The framework for such future cooperation with South Africa will have to be sensitive to not only the need for such growth and social reconstruction, but also to the need for balanced regional development.

As for the first democratic elections in South Africa, the European Community and Belgium have the firm intention to be present at this historic event. And when I say "be present" I mean to be present to help, not to substitute the kind of leadership that must and will come from within the country. I believe that the presence of foreign election observers for example could to a certain degree be a deterrent against violence and intimidation in the weeks before the elections, and give international credibility to the results of these same elections after the votes will have been counted.

Dear Dr. Mandela, I read one day that your second Christian name (Rolihlahla) means "stirring up trouble". By giving you that name they have certainly given proof of excellent foresight For without persons like you who relentlessly struggled for what they believed was right, and stirred up trouble for the ones who refused to give you and your people the most fundamental political rights, the new South Africa would still be in the doldrums. Now it is on the threshold of a new beginning and it will forever be indebted to you for this ! I am happy that your visit gives me the opportunity to tell you this and to join the millions of people who say : Thank you.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 19/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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