Item 1272 - Speech by Nelson Mandela President of the Republic of South Africa: The Mandela Lecture

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ZA COM MR-S-1272


Speech by Nelson Mandela President of the Republic of South Africa: The Mandela Lecture


  • 1995-03-10 (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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The Mandela Lecture

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  • English

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Members of the press,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen.

For us, as representatives of a newly democratic South Africa, to be here, in Denmark, on the occasion of the World Summit for Social Development, brings a combination of powerful emotions.

Joy as representatives of a free nation to a country whose people stood with us in our struggle for freedom.

Pride in being able to stand before you, now partners in our development, and say that our country is using its democratic power to begin at last to address the dreadful socio-economic legacy of apartheid.

Stimulated at the challenge of helping to formulate concrete strategies to address the deepening problems of poverty, inequality and social disintegration which this World Summit is addressing.

It is now three years since I was last in Denmark. We were then in the early stages of long and hard negotiations.

Today it is a very different situation. So different that it is sometimes difficult to recall how overwhelming the battle then seemed. I would like to use this opportunity to thank the people of Denmark and other Nordic countries for the selfless commitment towards our struggle for justice and democracy. For your dedicated support, with the rest of the world community, we say:

"Tusind tak for hjaelpen"

Denmark and the other Nordic countries, were distinguished for respecting our choices of methods used in our struggle for liberation. Even today, your development assistance continues to respect the priorities and programmes chosen by South Africans. We thank you most sincerely for that respect.

Our past struggle for freedom in South Africa forms the foundation of our renewed struggle against poverty and for reconstruction and development.

South Africans have surprised the world - and perhaps themselves - with their success in knitting together diverse and previously antagonistic threads into a nation united in pursuit of common goals.

It would be idle to pretend that in the transition, there were no problems. Indeed, we believe that we owe it to the international community not only to celebrate our victories, but also to be open about our difficulties. Not because they are exceptional or incapacitating, but because they are part of the reality which we all face in working together to bring a better life for all.

The dimensions and effects of poverty are all too familiar: hunger; unemployment; homelessness; disintegration of the social fabric; ill-health; illiteracy. Tackling these deep- rooted and interrelated problems requires comprehensive and co-ordinated policies for the transformation of society.

Such policies, in our country, are embodied in the Reconstruction and Development Programme, which forms the foundation-stone of our Government of National Unity.

Precisely because it seeks a total transformation of society, along a path of sustainable development, it requires an active partnership of all social structures. And because the objective is an improvement of the lives of especially the poor, its success depends on all sectors taking responsibility for making the most effective use of our country's limited resources.

The key components of the RDP are:
- Provision of basic needs and infra structure to all our people;
- Human resource development, for both basic
education and high level skills;
- Rapid economic growth based primarily on these RDP investments and measures to improve efficiency of our industries;
- Openness, transparency and democratisation of our whole society, and particularly of government at all levels.
- People centred and people-driven programmes to ensure that real needs are catered for, that there is capacity building and that development is sustainable.

We are therefore looking at social and economic development proceeding in parallel. Economic growth must be accompanied by redistribution policies that empower people and lead to sustainable human development.

We cannot rely on an trickle-down effects for social development.

The RDP is funded primarily from re-organising spending in the National, Provincial, and local budgets towards the RDP priorities.

We have already made substantial changes in how resources are allocated. This process was started by cutting R2,5 billion from departmental budgets and allocatin it to the RDP fund for 1994195, and R5 billion for 1995/96 which redirect spending from consumption to capital investment and to supply basic needs.

But the process has now gone much further. The entire budget is being reformulated to a multi-year, programme- base budget. Strategic management principles and performance monitoring have been introduced.

This is allowing a deep-cutting redirection of resources within each function of government (such as health care, education, defence, and water provision) and between functions. Already the peace dividend has allowed substantial transfers to development areas such as housing, urban and rural development, land reform and the provision of infra-structure and municipal services.

To the extent that our transition to democracy is incomplete, there are sharp obstacles in the way of change. We still need to democratise our society and its institutions.

While we have a truly democratic national and provincial framework, our communities still lack democratic local channels through which they can address their pressing problems. We are therefore determined that our first democratic local government elections in October this year should take place under conditions which favour the greatest participation. We are equally anxious that the Constitutional Assembly should successfully complete its task of writing and adopting a permanent and inclusive democratic constitution for our country.

The initial period of democratic government has of necessity been principally devoted to planning and establishing the capacity of government to implement programmes of change.

We have already put in place programmes to address the most urgent basic needs of our people: free health care for our young children and mothers; school feeding for more than 4 and a half million primary school children; the right of all children to be admitted to school; provision of water in rural areas; land restitution; rebuilding and improving our urban areas and extending municipal services.

We are also insisting that all departments and structures of government and structures of government incorporate a programme for the empowerment of women.

We recognise that the empowerment and emancipation of women is central to the solution of poverty, social disintegration and sustainable development.

This interim stage in our transition lends itself to a certain healthy turbulence in our national life. The process of democratisation is irreversible and change is becoming increasingly visible. Communities are responding positively to the challenge to assume responsibility for their own upliftment, and for co-operation in assuring their own safety and security. Crime and violence are still problems but we are taking decisive steps to clamp down on crime and advance community policing

We are likewise determined to establish the highest standards in public life and the private sphere, precisely because of the context of norms inherited from the corruption and mismanagement of the apartheid era. We have to frankly acknowledge that notions of legality have been affected both by the abuse of law to oppress and by the methods required in fighting that oppression. In this regard the African National Congress has a historic responsibility to lead by example, and not to be deflected.

At this stage effective governance assumes particular importance. This is both because of its absence in the past and because transition brings factors which militate against it. But it would be a mistake to infer that it is the only pre-occupation of our government.

On the contrary, we are able to address these difficulties because we do have a leadership that can put the national interest first. Further the stability which we enjoy is founded on something that extends far beyond political parties.

It is a broad national consensus, expressed in an active partnership of social forces. In each sphere of social policy, consultation with all the social sectors and stakeholders has become the order of the day.

It is this unity and high degree of participation by civil society as in Denmark and the Nordic nations that gives
us the confidence to believe that, immense as our legacy of poverty may be, we are in a position to make a visible and sustainable impact upon it.

The consensus building will take place inter alia in the National Economic Development and Labour Council which is a statutory multi-party body established to negotiate consensus on major socio economic policy issues.

Our problems and hopes are, in the end, little different from those of the world. We are, therefore, looking forward with great enthusiasm to exchanging ideas and strategies with our fellow delegates from the different corners of the globe on how we are all going to make a difference.

It is my profound wish that the UN World Summit on Social Development will go down in history as one which made a difference to the quality of life for millions around the world.

It is more than three decades since we began to recognise that the economic gap within and between nations as the world's most critical challenge. While democratisation has brought political progress across most of the world, in many respects the socio-economic situation is worse.

The dialogue which we seek to continue with the Nordic countries and the rest of the world is to set out a programme of action to implement the decisions of the UN World Summit based on the lessons which we have all learnt.

Humility, induced by the heavy responsibility which rests upon all of us demands that we cannot postpone the decisions and concrete programmes which will set us on a path which sees the world transformed into a better home for all!

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 25/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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