Item 1194 - Message of the ANC President Nelson Mandela on the Occasion of the ECC Peace Festival

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ZA COM MR-S-1194


Message of the ANC President Nelson Mandela on the Occasion of the ECC Peace Festival


  • 1993 (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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  • English

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Mr Chairman
Comrades and Friends

I am very delighted to be here tonight, to open your historic peace festival; marking the 10th anniversary of the End Conscription Campaign.

I take this opportunity to salute you for your selfless contribution in the struggle to end apartheid. You are among those in this country who rejected the privileges of minority rule, and instead, chose to fight for peace. You suffered detention, and other forms of harassment for refusing to do military service. Thousands of objectors fled the country rather than defend apartheid, and many more simply failed to report for military service each year.

The ECC's opposition to conscription based on the fundamental belief that no person should be forced to take up arms, to kill innocent people.

Your campaign against conscription put you firmly on the side of the democratic forces, and contributed considerably to the overall effort of the people of South Africa to overthrow racial oppression.

It is your principled struggle, and those of the masses of the people of our country, and the international community, that forced the apartheid regime to negotiate.

The struggle for democracy in this country is also a struggle for peace. That is why the ANC and the broad Mass Democratic Movement welcomed the establishment of the ECC, and derived much strength and hope from your sterling campaign.

Throughout its history the African National Congress used non violent and peaceful means of struggle. But the response of the regime was to unleash the most brutal forms of racial oppression this country has ever seen. It was for this reason that we embarked on armed action during which the youth of our country made the highest sacrifices. They paid for freedom with their own lives.

A combination of the operations of MK and ECC, and of other democratic forces inside and outside our country, has brought us to the most exciting moment of our history; when we can say with confidence that victory is in sight.

Mr Chairman

The apartheid regime unleashed violence, not only against our people, but also against those in the Southern African region. The neighbouring states are struggling to recover from the devastation and intrigue of this regime. It spread weapons in the region which are being used today to massacre our people in the townships.

Only the establishment of the Transitional Executive Council and the holding of election in April next year will eventually free South Africa from the corruption of the present regime. Only then will peace and happiness come to our bleeding country.

A massive arms industry exists in this country. A democratically elected government will reverse this policy, drastically reduce the defence budget and allocate more resources to a programme of reconstruction and development, improve the living standard of our people, develop our economy so that it can generate wealth and offer job opportunities.

The role of the South African Security Forces.

The security forces were trained to defend white minority rule, and to deal most ruthlessly with the demand for a democratic and nonracial society. We cannot expect the same security forces to defend democracy. A thorough reorganisation will thus be necessary where a democratic culture will be the cornerstone of the new force.

Re-organisation will mean that some soldiers and policemen will be demobilised. This must be a matter of serious concern to the security forces. This is an issue which will be handled in a humane manner and every effort will be made not to throw people into the streets to fend for themselves. We do not want solutions which create a host of other problems.

The activities of the National Intelligence Service and Military Intelligence, have tarnished the name and integrity of the security forces. The upsurge of violence in Natal, East rand and the Vaal area, the failure of the police to bring the culprits to book, together with their inaction against the rightwing invasion of the World Trade Centre, only reinforced the perception that they are working together with those who are systematically killing our people.

In conclusion I wish to call upon the youth of our country, black and white inside and outside the security forces to accept that the future of this country lies not with the dying forces of apartheid, but with those of democracy. Let us walk the last mile and celebrate freedom day together.

Thank you for your attention.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 20/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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