Item 1234 - Address by President Nelson Mandela at the State Department Luncheon

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ZA COM MR-S-1234


Address by President Nelson Mandela at the State Department Luncheon


  • 04 October 1994 (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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State Department Luncheon

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  • English

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Thank you for your warm welcome, and for this important opportunity to meet and speak with such a distinguished audience.

An occasion like this deepens the pride South Africans feel as a nation in our newly-achieved democracy. It expresses in concrete terms the fact that our nation, free at last, can take its place as an equal in the international community of democracies.

The struggle against apartheid was long, arduous and painful. The people and government of the United States shared in that effort in a manner that was decisive to the achievement of our final victory. We salute and thank you for this.

Proud as South Africans are of their achievements, we are fully conscious of how much more is still to be done. Among the most urgent tasks is consolidating our young democracy and making it a living reality for all citizens. Above all, we appreciate the fact that democracy would be hollow if it did not entail fundamental socio-economic changes to liberate millions from the bondage of poverty and deprivation.

Our Reconstruction and Development Programme is an all-encompassing process of transforming our society to ensure a better life for all. Its success is crucial to the survival and development of democracy. Its feasibility, on the other hand, depends on sustainable economic growth.

We have recently had positive indicators on the economic front, but the revival of South Africa's economy will not be an easy task. The support of the international community is indispensable in this new frontier of economic development that our nation is tackling jointly and with determination.

We should therefore express our sincere appreciation for the role which the United States, and the State Department in particular, have played in putting material resources at our disposal for the social upliftment of our people, and by providing facilities to encourage US investment in South Africa.

The decision by your government to grant the new South Africa admission to the Generalised System of Preferences has provided great opportunities for our exports. And, indeed, the recent trade fair in New York involving South African business, will leave you in no doubt that our business-people will be exploiting that opportunity to the full.

Added to this, are the preliminary discussions on joint efforts to mobilise funds throughout the world to help finance our reconstruction and development efforts. Without these generous measures, our task in South Africa would be that much more difficult.

We are fully conscious that American business will itself benefit from this relationship, and so will the cause of democracy throughout the world. Our partnership, therefore, is one not premised on hand-outs, but a mutual effort to consolidate a young democracy and ensure that it plays its role in the effort to build a better South Africa, a better Africa and a better world.

All these efforts, however, can succeed only in the context of political stability and sound economic policies.

The Government of National Unity is committed to creating an environment containing optimal conditions for investment and economic growth. During the course of our visit, we will spell out in more detail what the measures are which the Government intends taking in this regard.

Today I want only to emphasise the Government's commitment to sound economic principles, and that we feel confident that South Africans possess the determination and the will to abide by them. This determination and will have manifested themselves so vividly in the manner in which our hitherto divided nation has found common cause in the pursuit of justice, democracy and the economic well-being of all our people.

On its part the government is committed to prudent management of our national resources and creating an environment in which both big and small, local and foreign, business can thrive. Above all, we have gone a long way in building a partnership among all sectors, including government, business and labour to promote joint strategies for a vibrant and growing economy.

In pursuit of a market free of distortions deriving from the apartheid era, the Government has recently scrapped a number of subsidies which skewed the market. The first reductions in import tariffs, in accordance with GATT requirements, have already taken place. These were not easy decisions, for they demanded sacrifices from some of our people. But they were necessary in the interest of our long term economic goals.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In pursuing democratic ideals and human rights, the United States and South Africa have a common interest and shared values. As we have said on countless occasions, the ideals of the American founding fathers inspired us and .they continue to serve as a beacon in our endeavours to build democracy and entrench a culture of human rights in our land. These are the ideals that spurred your sons and daughters to sacrifice in no small measure to see to the eradication of apartheid.

All these efforts, your words of encouragement and material assistance during our long and difficult negotiations process shall forever remain embedded in our hearts. And one shining example of your consistency, in this regard, is the agreement we signed only a few days ago, for the US Administration to assist in the restructuring of our judicial system.

There are many such instances we can quote. But the underlying message is that our governments and peoples share common goals premised on noble human values. This is the foundation of the partnership we seek to build and strengthen.

May I, with all humility, express once more our appreciation for this opportunity to share views with you and for your support over the years. Thus, can our two democracies join hands in building a better world of free nations, of men, women and children born free and destined to live their lives in freedom and economic prosperity.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 21/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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