Item 1202 - Speech by Former President Nelson Mandela to the ANC National General Council Meeting

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ZA COM MR-S-1202


Speech by Former President Nelson Mandela to the ANC National General Council Meeting


  • 2000-07-15 (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 National General Council Meeting

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  • English

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We in the African National Congress are
heirs of brave African men and women that
fought for National Liberation for over three
generations. The post Second World War
leaders Dr Xuma, Dr Moroka, Chief Albert
Luthuli and Oliver Tambo made the ANC,
the vanguard of the struggle in defeating the
apartheid regime in 1994. We in the ANC
did not do this alone. We were with the
South African Indian Congress under the
able leadership of Drs Yusuf Dadoo and
Monty Naicker, and with the Coloured
Peoples Congress led by Rahim, and the
Congress of Democrats led by Bram

Fischer. The UDF and the hundreds of its affiliated organizations, the trade union
movement, the Communist Party, the
Churches, the women and other freedom
loving people. The ANC is worthy of praise
for tenaciously striving by various means for
so long, culminating in the Freedom Charter
in 1955, the first democratic elections of
1994 and the second election in 1999 in
both of which the people of South Africa
entrusted their future to us. The vast
majority of the people of South Africa voted
for the ANC because of its record of
struggle since 1912.
Thabo Mbeki, Cyril Ramaphosa, Joe Slovo
and other leaders piloted through the

Constituent Assembly a constitution of
which we together with many of the nations
of the world are proud. The ANC
government has made considerable
advances in relation to housing, health,
education and social services.
The ANC's successes have not been as a
result of the efforts of any particular
individual but rather due to the concerted
effort of the ANC's collective leadership.
Our national executive, democratically
elected, consists of women and men of all
colours, from various provinces, speaking
many languages, of different religious
beliefs, different levels of education,
different occupations and mainly from

disadvantaged backgrounds. The same
applies to the ANC's elected
representatives in Parliament in the
Provincial Legislatures and in Local
Government. They are each in his or her
way the leading figures in our organization
and government.
The unity of purpose of those who served
the ANC has created a legacy amongst us
of collective leadership. Let us remember
that despite oppression, despite hangings,
bannings, imprisonments and exile, our
Liberation Movement remained united like
no other in the world. Oliver Tambo, Alfred
Nzo, Thabo Mbeki, Joe Slovo, Chris Hani
and many others acting as a collective

leadership in exile and despite great
difficulties keeping in touch with those in
South Africa, including us behind bars on
Robben Island and elsewhere, held fast.
The prophecies of our opponents that race,
tribalism, ideological and other differences
would drive us in different directions did not
come to pass. The collective leadership
enjoyed the loyalty and respect of practically
all who have embraced the struggle for
Similarly elements in the opposition parties
suffer from similar delusions. They nick-
pick on various alleged contradictions in
statements made by ANC leaders, praise
some and condemn others with the hope of
creating dissent. We assure them that their
efforts will not bear the fruit they desire.
The need for collective leadership is as
necessary now as it has been in the past.
We need the commitment of leaders at all
levels in order to achieve the better life for
all that we promised our people. We need
not be ashamed in admitting that poverty is
still with us. It is not enough to say that we
have inherited it, it is more important to take
steps as a matter of the utmost urgency to
put an end to it. We do not need careerists
or opportunists in the various levels of
government. I agree fully with President
Thabo Mbeki in his condemnation of such
people. We must encourage those who

consider themselves as members of
minority groups to join us in our efforts to
transform our society by putting to an end
the vast differences between the poor vast
majority and the very small but very rich
minority. We should urge those who
criticize us to take positive steps to solve
our problems, support our courts and
administration of justice, our security forces,
the structures established for the avoidance
of conflict and show some optimism in
relation to the future of our country rather
than being prophets of doom, that adversely
affect would be investors in our economic

It is not necessary for me to chalk up our
successes. They are well known even to
those who make odious comparisons
between us and some of our neighbours and
other African countries that are experiencing
grave political and economical difficulties.
I withdrew from my leadership positions in
the African National Congress and the
government. As I said upon my release
from prison I am and will remain a loyal and
disciplined member of the African National
Congress. I have confidence in our
President, our collective leadership and the
good judgment of the vast majority of our
members and indeed the vast majority of
the people of South Africa. I have full

confidence in our collective leadership. But,
this does not mean that there may not be
differences of opinion and even
disappointments amongst us. If there are
they must be debated fully but let everyone
accept the decision of the majority and work
hard to implement it. As for criticism from
outside our ranks let us be tolerant though
often we are not told what they would have
done if they were in our position. Our letters
of confidence and the good judgment of the
vast majority of the people in South Africa
they know that despite our failures real or
imagined nobody could have done better
than us in the comparatively short period
that we have been in power. Nor has any

workable plans shown how to do better in
the future.
I have spoken about collective leadership.

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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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