Item 1475 - Speech by Mandela on ANC perspectives

Identity area

Reference code

ZA COM MR-S-1475


Speech by Mandela on ANC perspectives


  • 1991-01-01 - 1991-12-31 (1991)

Level of description


Extent and medium

Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

Context area

Name of creator

Archival history

Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Publication note

Photocopy of handwritten copy of speech.

Notes area



Friends and distinguished guests,

I thank you very much for having afforded me the opportunity of discussing with you all the position of the African National Congress on a wide range of issues, but more especially, our position relating to the role of business in creating peace and development in the framework of a non-racial, non-sexist, united and democratic South Africa.


We are endlessly bombarded with the accusation that we do not provide a detailed blue-print for our post apartheid economy. In particular, the slander is spread that we ignore the problem of growth and shout merely about redistribution.

Let me once again make clear what is obvious to every child. There can clearly be no meaningful distribution without growth. But what our detractors overlook is that without a policy of redistribution, growth is a meaningless statistic. Between 1960 and 1976 the country had an ideal growth rate of 6% per annum. But the gap between the races grew, and the bulk of our people had little or no benefit from such growth.

We are asked to support a vague policy of growth, and we are assured that this will have a trickle down effect for the economically deprived people as well. The racial imbalance is too vast to be addressed by a mere trickle; what our people want is a flood of affirmative action, which begins the process of a fair redistribution of wealth.

Growth is a sine qua non of this process. But we cannot ignore the existing realities of our situation. Of the income which is generated 85% goes to the white group. Of all productive property close to 97% is owned or controlled by the white group, most of it by a handful of monopolies. If we do nothing about this gross racial imbalance, we will move into a political democracy, which for our deprived majority will be a little more than an empty shell.

Let me also address the captains of business argument that we have not elaborated a detailed enough blueprint for the post apartheid South Africa. We accept that there is an obligation on us to flesh out the future in sufficient detail, and we are certainly willing to do so. But what has business produced apart from general clichés about the free market, growth, and the trickle down effects. Have we seen a single programme from them which convinces our people that the inherited privileges of apartheid on which business has flourished, will be addressed as a resource which will begin to benefit all our people?

We accept the onus which is on us. But we also insist that those who have historically benefited from the racist-economic system must also meet their responsibilities. And if they do so they will have a vital role to play in the new society.

Recently a great deal of media burnout has focussed on my remarks on nationalisation. We have been accused of being prisoners of outdated economic models. Let me tell them what model we are looking to. It’s certainly not the centralised beaurocratic model which has failed so badly in Eastern Europe. We stand for a model whose efficacy has been demonstrated by virtually the whole of Western Europe and the Far East, when faced in the post Second World War period with the need to restructure war destroyed or backward economies. In virtually all these countries- United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, South Korea- the foundations of economic advance were laid by massive state intervention, including selective nationalisation of key sectors. None of these countries left it all to the whims of so-called free market forces without state intervention and regulation.

Nationalisation is also one form of state intervention; it needs to be addressed in the context of a mixed economy for which we stand. It is one of the mechanisms which may be used in selected areas as a means of giving the State effective clout to begin the process of redressing existing imbalances. Nationalisation, as we see it, does not necessarily exclude private sector participation even in situations in which the State plays a significant role

It is in this spirit that we invite business in our ongoing dialogue to fund ways of addressing the key economic question of the future which is: how do we ensure growth, while at the same time ensuring that the benefits of such growth are effectively spread also to our racially deprived majority. Expand.

De Klerk

In his recent speeches at N.P. Congresses President De Klerk has talked like the old Mr De Klerk; whose co-responsibility for apartheid is well-known. Every one of these speeches to his party faithful contained threats and intimidation against the ANC and its allies. The most sinister thing of all is that he has ended each one of these speeches with an assurance to his supporters that Govt has the power and the will to exercise such powers; that there will be no departure from what he calls N.P. Values. He has also referred to us as spoilers.

The De Klerk regime is the last to teach us about democracy. They still have not learnt the lessons of our history. He accuses us of wanting to take the country by storm and to keep it by aggression. The whole world knows that that is exactly what the white state has done and continues to do. For four decades they have used state harassment , detention without trial, banning of organisations and individuals, imprisonment and murder.

It is sadder still that Mr De Klerk defends state sponsorship of dirty tricks, including violence, to destabilise its opponents. Mr De Klerk makes hardly any effort to uncover the perpetrators of the slaughter of innocent and defenceless individuals. Sam Ntuli was cold bloodedly murdered after the peace accord was signed, 18 people were killed at his funeral. We all have a commitment to tell the public to what lengths the NP and the regime will go to retain power even at the risk of creating chaos. Their insensitivity towards the suffering of blacks knows no bounds.

We are struggling against the poverty and degradation created by apartheid, and we claim and assert the right of all South Africans to peaceful political expression, including those of mass political action such as strikes, stay at homes, demonstrations, rent and consumer boycotts. These are universally recognised instruments of democratic political expression. They are not privileges to be dispensed or withheld at the discretion of the regime. We cannot be silent when the regime talks peace and makes war.

Mr De Klerk insists that the present racist constitution must be the foundation within which transformation will take place. All he says about this Constitution is that is has “shortcomings.” Do you call a Constitution which deprives 80% of our people of democratic representation as merely having shortcomings? We know that the whole civilised world has declared this Constitution null and void by a Security Council decision.

As pointed out above, Mr De Klerk boasts that he has the power and will to ensure that there will be no departure from what he calls NP values. What power is he talking about? It is certainly not the power of the democratic process- which we are prepared to test tomorrow- but the power of the whole repressive apparatus of his illegitimate Govt.

On the eve of the All-Party Congress he is beckoning us to discussions with warnings, threats and intimidation bordering on war talk. If this is the starting point, then the future of the APC is very bleak indeed. We are, nevertheless, ready to go there in the hope that all this aggressive blustering is merely for the consumption of the party faithful. Too many of them are still leaving in the past of white arrogance. Mr De Klerk has shown that he is still a prisoner of platteland policies.

Those who may be tempted by N.P. rhetoric about alliances with blacks must think deeply about the experience of the Labour Party which has threatened with extinction through the sleezy manipulation of the racist N.P. machine. Those blacks who have been coopted into the NP are not there as equals of the white members of that party. In a world and country where racialism is condemned and rejected, the function of black members is to help to disguise the racist policies of that party.

People ask: is Mr De Klerk personally organising this violence? That is not the real question. Events, especially during the last two years, have shown that violence is orchestrated for purposes of weakening and ultimately destroying the ANC. This serves the purposes of the NP and the regime. By doing virtually nothing about it, we regard him as an accomplice in this violence.

In our commitment to peaceful transformation we have perhaps for too long given the integrity of the N.P. and the regime the benefit of the doubt. Events of the last 18 months have begun to erode that perception. When we met them at Groote Schuur we were not aware of the dirty money he used to support opposition movements to the A.N.C. We perhaps also naively believed that Mr De Klerk would put an end to the murderous activities of the death squads, vigilantes and foreign mercenaries. None of this has happened.

In spite of the negative posture Mr De Klerk has taken, the objective of the A.N.C. is to bring about lasting peace in our country. We still believe that peace and unity are achievable. I would like to take this opportunity to announce to you all that we are now ready to making arrangements for the All-Party Congress, hopefully before the end of the year. In this regard we intend to resume talks with the regime which will be followed by bilateral talks with all political parties and organisations with substantial support. The Patriotic Joint Meetings are but one of the mechanisms where we discuss perspectives on how to unite South Africa. We strongly believe that religious and business leaders are best qualified to convene the All Party Conference.

We firmly believe that religious and business leaders can play an important role in normalising the country’s political and economic life. In particular business expertise in management skills and in the creation of a truly democratic infra-structure will be crucial if our economy is to grow.

The Indian community as a whole has never been afraid to display courage in the face of adversity and in the rejection of oppression. The low percentage polls in all the elections for the House of Delegates showed that the Indian people refused to be coopted into oppressive structures.

We can go very far back into the history of this country, and our own struggle for national liberation and declare that the Indian community has been involved very centrally in breaking apartheid’s back as part of the black majority.

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation. Accessioned on 2012-06-26 by Kelsey Duinkerken




Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places