Item 069 - Address to CODESA by Comrade Nelson R Mandela, President of the ANC

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Address to CODESA by Comrade Nelson R Mandela, President of the ANC


  • 1991-12-20 (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 Website

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  • English

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Chief Justice and Joint Chairpersons;
Leaders of Political Parties and Movements;
Distinguished Observers from International Organisations;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Venerable Traditional and Religions Leaders of our People;
Comrades and Friends;
Last but not least - People of South Africa:

Today will be indelibly imprinted in the history of our country. If we, who are gathered here respond to the challenge before us, today will mark the commencement of the transition from apartheid to democracy. Our people, from every corner of our country, have expressed their yearning for democracy and peace. CODESA represents the historical opportunity to translate that yearning into reality.

For eighty years, the ANC has led the struggle for democracy in South Africa. Along the route traversed during this period, many sacrifices were made by thousands upon thousands of our people. In the arduous battle between the people and oppression, positions hardened and polarisation developed between the people and the state. Even when, in the absence of any other recourse, the ANC took up arms, our objective was to secure a political settlement in South Africa. In the past few years an environment more conducive to establishing mutual trust has been established.

South Africans of many persuasions recognise that this environment, and its constitutional product, CODESA, is the fruit of their sacrifices and struggle. They have a justifiable expectation that CODESA will set our country on the road to democracy.

Inasmuch as apartheid has been declared a crime against humanity and the problems of our country have engaged so much of the attention of the international community over decades, the presence of esteemed observers from the key international organisations as guests of CODESA is most appropriate.

We welcome the guests from the United Nations Organisations; the Organisation of African Unity; the Commonwealth; the European Economic Community and the Non-Aligned Movement. We trust that they will avail to the process now unfolding, their wisdom, insights and experience gained in many similar initiatives across the world.

All South Africans share the hope and vision of a land free of apartheid, where internal strife will have no place.

The ANC initiated the search for peace in our country. Since 1987 the ANC has intensively campaigned for an negotiated transfer of power. This campaign reached new heights in 1989 when the OAU, the Non-Aligned Movement and the UN General Assemble all adopted declarations supporting the position. All three declarations stated:




Paragraph beginning: "CODESA, on its own, will not deliver democracy. In recorrding this fact, there is no attempt to demean CODESA."
Changes made: "recorrding" changed to "recording"

Paragraph beginning: "CODESA, on its own, will not deliver democracy."
Sentence in web text: "We need to reminded that this very constitution was declared null and void by the Un Security Council in 1983."
Changes made: "Un" changed to "UN"

Paragraph beginning: "An interim government..."
Sentence in web text: "Negotiations, to bee successful, must be owned and supported by the majority of South Africans."
Changes made: "bee" changed to "be"

Paragraph beginning: "We can only reverse the correct situation if we set our sights on establishing true democracy."
Sentence in web text: "No delegation here could possibly have been mandated by its constituency, however small, to attend Codes in order to annihilate itself."
Changes made: "Codes" changed to "CODESA"



We regret the fact that there are still parities who exclude themselves from this important process. After CODESA the situation in our country is irreversible. Threats about civil war is irresponsible and totally unacceptable. The time for such talk is long past. If they execute these the world will see that they are prolonging the suffering of all South Africans, and poison the search for peace in our country.

But one thing stands fast: The process of moving towards democracy is unstoppable. History grants all of us a unique opportunity.To exchange this opportunity for a bowl of lentil soup of the past, and negative bravado, is to deny the future. We continue to call on such parties to join CODESA now, even at this late stage.

The message of the ANC through CODESA is straight forward, clear, and for all South Africans; the time for one South Africa , one nation, one vote, one future is here.



When oppression necessitated a struggle in South Africa the ANC never retreated but was in the vanguard. Now that the situation is conducive it is the ANC again that leads the way in the effort to bring peace to the land of our ancestors.

Of there are people who need freedom in South Africa it is the Black people. They need it now because their economic and welfare situation deteriorates daily.

The right to vote is the essence of the struggle for freedom. 1992 is the year that must bring the first democratic elections in South Africa.

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 8 Nov 2006 by Helen Joannides




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