Item 1336 - Response by Nelson Mandela to the Questions of the Star's Readers to Leaders Hotline

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ZA COM MR-S-1336


Response by Nelson Mandela to the Questions of the Star's Readers to Leaders Hotline


  • 1990-01-01 - 1999-12-31 (c1990s)

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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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Response by Nelson Mandela to the Questions of the Star's Readers to Leaders Hotline

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  • English

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1. The African National Congress is deeply concerned about the massive unemployment problem in South Africa. Our main priority is to secure employment for South African citizens. We will need to look at immigration legislation that will in future prevent foreign nationals from being recruited to take jobs S.A. both need and are competent to do. But there is no question of asking foreign nationals with permanent residence to leave. Many have made an important contribution to the economy of South Africa, and have made it their home.

2. I am a member of the Methodist church. While I was on Robben Island I greatly appreciated the visits of ministers from a variety of different denominations, and the opportunity to take Holy Communion. I have a very deep respect for spiritual matters and the question of salvation. As far my personal salvation is concerned, I believe it is a highly personal matter which I would prefer not to discuss in the media.

3. We believe that the question of violence can only be addressed by all concerned South Africans together, regardless of political affiliation. In this regard a democratically elected government that has legitimacy and the support of all South Africans should take the lead. The ANC believes that a Government of National Unity and Reconstruction should be able to play such a role. The emphasis needs to be on economic development and social upliftment to correct the terrible injustices that have been perpetrated under the NP government's apartheid policy's. The best way to address violence is to ensure job opportunities and a better quality of life. As far as strikes and mass action are concerned, we believe that within any democratic society these are perfectly legitimate forms of protest. However, we are sure that as soon as a democratically elected government is in place, that consultation and address issues such as those currently under discussion in the National Economic Forum (NEF), we will see a dramatic decline in strikes and mass action.

4. It is impossible to say exactly at this stage what proportion of the civil servants should be retained. No person will simply be fired. But the whole civil service infrastructure will obviously be affected through reincorporation of the TBVC states, the doing away with parallel administrations created through tricameral and bantustan structures, and the establishment of regions in place of provincial authorities. There are a considerable number of civil servants who may want to retire or resign and they should be eligible for standard retirement packages, but not for the lucrative retirement packages and golden hand shakes that are currently being handed out. South Africa needs the skills of many of the current civil servants. What is expected of them is that they show full loyalty to a democratically elected government and will abide by the principles of non-racialism, and professional quality service.

5. You are perfectly right that there is a strong correlation between unemployment and violence. This is a problem which can only be addressed through close co-operation between the government and the private sector. We need investment in those sectors of our economy that will provide for the basic needs of the majority of our people and at the same time create jobs. A prime example is the need for massive house building programmes. Together with government the private sector should address this urgent need in a way that will be labour intensive, and not only put roofs over peoples heads, but also money in their pockets. There is also an urgent need for adult education and training programmes to improve syllabi. A commitment to create a skilled workforce and provide the necessary in- job training is needed from the private sector.

6. The question whether there will just be a President, or a President and a Prime Minister is a not matter that I or the African National Congress can decide unilaterally. It is a matter for thorough negotiations, but one that can only finally be decided on by a democratically elected Constituent Assembly.

7. No I am not concerned about this. Stories about ANC supporters expecting to simply take houses and cars are malicious rumours being circulated with the specific aim to create fear and confusion. It is true that many of the privileges and luxuries that whites have are a direct result of the preferential treatment that they have received under apartheid, but the majority of oppressed people in South Africa know that these inequalities will not simply be corrected by commanding the property of whites. It can only be corrected through hard work in a truly non-discriminatory society that tries to correct the wrongs of the past through an affirmative action programme that concentrates on the advancement of our people through training and the acquirement of skills.

8. I am deeply disturbed by the callousness of the NP government which has repeatedly demonstrated that they care far less for the lives of black people than for white people. Whenever white people die in the violence they take every possible step to find the perpetrators if the crime. However when black people die there is an appallingly inadequate response. I believe that regardless of the colour of any South African citizen every possible measure should be taken to investigate their deaths and apprehend the criminals. If the best way to investigate the deaths of black people is to get investigators from overseas I will not hesitate to do so.

9. The ANC believes in the system of multi-part democracy with elections at regular intervals. We have also put forward the perspective of a government of National Unity and Reconstruction wherein parties which have won five percent of the votes will also participate in the processes of reconstruction and development. The objective is to find common ground so that all of us, together, can take our country forward and address the serious problems facing us.

10. It is true that Chief Buthelezi on numerous occasions called for the release of political prisoners, The ANC nonetheless respects his right to espouse views different from those of our movement. The ANC has never waged a struggle against individuals but the system of apartheid. The challenge before all leaders is to rise above party personal differences, and speak and act in the interests of all South Africans.

11. The ANC believes in the principle of equal pay for equal work of equal value, equal access to employment training and advancement. Once in power, the ANC shall continue to strive to remove the salary disparity between workers of different colour performing duties of the same value. It is the ANC that initiated the current negotiation process to save the country from years of apartheid economic mismanagement and destruction. We have committed ourselves to the process of peaceful transformation of our country to ensure democracy, freedom, prosperity and an economy that can grow to ensure all our people jobs, and security.

12. Both the ANC and the Youth League have on a number of occasions issued statements reflecting our policy and approach in the current phase of negotiations. We have pointed out that whereas certain slogans had been used during a particular phase of our struggle, those slogans were inappropriate in the current phase. The ANC will not compromise on a matter of principle or policy. We remain committed o the building of a non-racial, peaceful, democratic South Africa.

13. The ANC has proposed that a Land Claims Court be established to take into account the experiences and history of other countries with regard to the land question, our approach will be dictated to by the existing conditions in our country.

14. We do not agree with your assertion that the Civil Rights Movement in the US did very little for black people in that country. Nonetheless, the struggle of black people in the US is fundamentally different from the struggle in South Africa. Whereas the black people of our country constitute the majority, the blacks in the US are in the minority. Theirs was a civil rights struggle, whilst ours has been a struggle to ensure democratic majority rule. We believe that through national liberation the various policy positions we have toward, including affirmative action, we will be able to redress the imbalances created by years of apartheid oppression and exploitation and bring fundamental change to the socioeconomic conditions of the majority of our people. The challenge lies not only with the ANC, but with all South Africans.

15. All people should pay taxes, and should be able to see the results of such contributions. The tragedy in South Africa is that black people have paid taxes without representation or any input as to how such taxes were spent. AU South Africans should know what taxes raised are spent on, so that we avoid white elephants such as Mossgas, or the secret funding of any organization or structure. Taxes should be used for the benefit of all, in health care, infrastructure, education. I would gladly pay to contribute to such programmes, developed by a government elected by all the people.

16. The ANC rejects all forms of discrimination. This equally applies to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In terms of Article 8 on Gender Rights of the ANC Bill of Rights, discrimination on the basis of gender, legitimacy of birth or sexual orientation shall be unlawful. Your participation and promotion within the ranks of the army shall be on the basis of merit. Your sexual orientation will play no role whatsoever.

17. South Africa needs professional policemen who are highly trained. The approach must be community policing, respect for the rights of all citizens, and upholding the law within the framework of a Bill of Rights. All policemen, irrespective of colour or rank, should qualify for benefits that have been determined as part the employment code. The ANC does not envisage retrenchments in the police force, but rather an upgrading and retraining of the entire force to ensure the security and protection of all South Africans.

18. The 27 April elections for a new government will be fought under the ANC banner. This means that all candidates who appear on the ANC list, whether at a national, regional or local level, are accountable to the ANC and are bound by its principles and policies, which they have accepted. Therefore there is no possibility of a crossover to the SACP or any other party that falls under this umbrella body.

19. Through decades of a systematic policy of repression, bannings and detentions, many South Africans have been deprived of the opportunity to know the ANC and its policies. The Freedom Charter, adopted in 1955, contains our fundamental principles that include freedom of assembly, worship, and equality before the law irrespective of race, colour or creed. The struggle for freedom, including the right for all South Africans to be citizens in the land of their birth, is totally in keeping with international norms of democracy and liberty. There has been no change in the ANC's policies or practice with regard too these matters over the decades. Perhaps the only difference is that people are now able to find out for themselves what the ANC stands for instead of forming opinions based on extensive propaganda and a denial of the right to speak for ourselves through bannings, exile and imprisonment.

20. There is a fundamental misconception in the question, which speaks of the minority subsidising the majority. One look at South Africa, and the stark contrast in living conditions between townships and towns, the discrepancies in expenditure on education, health, services, electricity, running water etc between that spent on whites and that on blacks, would indicate who was being subsidised. Moreover, vast resources of tax-payers money, including the direct and indirect tax, such as through VAT, have been squandered on ventures such as Mossgas, duplicate administrations resulting from the creation of bantustans etc. ANC policy is lean, transparent and efficient government where taxpayers money provides essential services for the benefit of all South Africans.

21. The task confronting all South Africans is to find ways to cross the divide created by apartheid. The ANC has deliberately opted for proportional representation in an endeavour to make the government elected in the first non-racial election to be held as inclusive as possible. Through proportional representation all shades of opinion will be accommodated in parliament, instead of a winner takes all approach. Being elected through proportional representation does not remove
accountability. At present, no one knows how many people there are in South Africa, let alone there being a register of all potential voters. One of the tasks of a new government will be to develop such a register so that future elections, using proportional representation, will be constituency-based to enhance direct contact and accountability at grassroots.

22. The ANC believes that a new government will have the enormous task of reconstruction and development, providing houses, jobs, education, peace and security for all South Africans. In practice, the process of reconciliation and healing will demonstrate to all those presently acting as "spoilers" that they have nothing to fear from democracy. We have no doubt that the vast majority of supporters of Viljoen, Terre'Blanche and Buthelezi want what we all want - peace, jobs, security and a recognition of our value, both individually and culturally. It is all of our task to work towards creating this climate so that everyone recognises that our surest way to achieve these goals is the establishment of a democratic society.

23. The objective of a government of national unity is to show, in practice, to all South Africans that they have a voice. It is not power-sharing, in that the party that wins a majority has the decisive say. But in the interests of reconciliation, peace and stability the ANC has proposed proportional representation even at Cabinet level, which will provide a role for all parties with more than 5% of the vote. The hardship inflicted by the NP on millions of black South Africans still affects us today. In the interests of preventing decades of conflict into the future, such as witnessed post independence in Angola and Mozambique, the ANC has proposed a government of national unity to promote peace, stability and reconciliation. We need to look forward and build a country based on the principles of democracy, non-racialism and non-sexist so that the principles many have lived and died for are realised.

24. Massacres in South Africa date back decades. They may not be known by all, but Bulhoek, Sharpeville, Soweto are a few examples where hundreds of people were mercilessly mown down. The conflict in Natal has been raging now for ten years. Apartheid itself was a war against the people. Over 3.5-million people were forcibly removed from the land, whole areas, such as District Six, were demolished and the inhabitants relocated. The violence that has erupted is part of the destabilisation policy practiced by the NP government against neighbouring states such as Angola and Mozambique. PW Botha's "total strategy" put in place secret structures that had the task of eliminating ANC members and activists of the democratic movement. One need only refer to the Trust Feed Case or the current inquest into the death of Mathew Goniwe and his colleagues to see how this secret war was conducted. The violence raging today has its roots in this policy, and has itself spawned other manifestations that are a result of fear and intolerance. The ANC is determined to find ways to bring peace. At our Instance international monitors have come to the country. We have proposed bringing all armies under multi-party control and the urgent creation of a national peace keeping force, We need a police force based on community policing be established to ensure its legitimacy. While we fully recognise the right of people to self defence, we have publicly stated that any member of the ANC who engages in violence has no place in our movement.

25. National symbols are emotive issues. We are proposing that national competitions be held to design a new flag, to compose a new anthem and that national monuments should be named so as to reflect events important to the history and culture of all South Africans. With full recognition of all South African languages, the ANC believes that such a process should be part of nation building rather than be issues that continue to divide us.



Not a speech but Mandela is answering questions from readers

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 27/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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