Item 071 - New Year message from the ANC President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela to the people of South Africa for 1992

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New Year message from the ANC President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela to the people of South Africa for 1992


  • 1991-12-30 (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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Fellow South Africans,

A New Year is upon us. A New Year that, in the last decade of this century, could usher in a new era of hope for all South Africans. While we have achieved a great deal, we should not, however, mark this New Year in a spirit of self congratulation, but rather as an occasion for calm and sober reflection. We need to take stock of the tasks and challenges that still lie ahead. Yet it is an index of the advances we have made that the opportunity to set South Africa firmly on the road to democracy is with us.

1991 saw many new developments, including the formation of the Patriotic Front. We can all justly take pride in the success of the first meeting of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, CODESA, which brought together the overwhelming majority of political parties, organisations and formations in our country. The commonly agreed objective of CODESA, subscribed to by all but two of the participants, is the attainment of a non-racial democracy.

The tragedy of South Africa is that CODESA comes after eighty years of costly struggles by the majority of South Africans who had been excluded from the so-called "national convention" that took place in 1909. After the innumerable missed opportunities of the past eight decades, CODESA represents a promising window of opportunity for all South Africans to map out the future of our country together.

As 1991 draws to a close, there remains the painful, fruitless and tragic bloodshed that has been the source of so much grief in Natal and other parts of the country. There is little merit today in attempting to determine who fired the first shot. But it is abundantly clear that no one - other than those who wish to preserve the apartheid order - benefits from the continuation of this bloodletting.

During Christmas and New Year, dedicated to peace and goodwill to all, I appeal to all the leaders of our people, be they in the civics, the mass movement, the trade unions, women's' or youth organisations, cultural or educational bodies, the churches or in business, to spare no effort to make the Peace Accord work and bring peace into our lives. For the sake of our children, for the future of our country, and to ensure that the democratic order so many have sacrificed so much to achieve is not still-born, the killing must stop now. Not another life should be lost in this futile violence.

As we enter the New Year, we cannot forget those of our fellow citizens whose lot is the despair of homelessness, hunger and poverty. Millions of our people are still denied fundamental human rights - shelter, food and the right to a full and productive life. The future we seek to build will be seriously flawed if it cannot address this national problem. The ANC has its own proposals to resolve the socio-economic problems afflicting the people of our country. I would appeal to others to give the matter the priority it deserves.

We realise that many South Africans are deeply concerned about the future, particularly the question of creating a vibrant and growing economy. The speed with which we can achieve this is dependent on progress made towards fundamental change. We have proposed, and the world has endorsed, the phased lifting of sanctions. The achievements to date have enabled us to lift people-to-people sanctions, and the benefits are there for all to see and enjoy - in cricket and other sports, in the cultural sphere and in tourism. The establishment of a democratic constitution would allow for all remaining sanctions, including financial sanctions, to be lifted and enable us to take our place with pride in the international community. Investors are keenly interested in the progress we make. If we accomplish these goals, the world is open to us.

This New Year will be the first that many who have engaged in struggle will observe outside prison. I take this opportunity to renew my heartfelt, warm welcome to these former political prisoners. I embrace these comrades, fully confident that they will find their rightful place in the ranks of the struggle they have served with such distinction, even while they were behind bars. The release of the majority of political prisoners, fought for and won by the people of South Africa, supported by millions throughout the world, is a great victory. But it is not complete, for outstanding patriots like Robert McBride, Mthetheleli Mncube and Mzondeleli Nondula are among the over 400 political prisoners who still remain in jail and on death row.

The harsh reality is that irrespective of the numbers that we, through our collective strength and efforts, can release from apartheid's jails, no one in South Africa can be truly free as long as the racist constitutional order remains in place. In our view, the foundations laid at CODESA make it possible for an Interim Government of National Unity to be established to oversee the transition process and supervise free and fair elections for a Constituent Assembly, on the basis of one person, one vote. A democratic constitution is, therefore, one of our priority goals to be achieved for this coming year.

1992 can be the year in which our country takes this giant step, which is necessary to realise our goal of democracy and win international acceptance. But all this can be achieved through our actions alone. For the sake of our country and our future, we dare not fail!

Let us begin this New Year by resolving not to perpetuate distinct racial, ethnic and language groups, which are the legacy of apartheid, but to act as fellow South Africans, ready and willing to work together. Let us seize this opportunity to make a new beginning by creatively harnessing what is best in our past to build for the future. There is a role and place for everyone in our country. Let us set aside narrow sectoral and party political interests to serve the greater national interest that will guarantee a future of peace, stability and prosperity for all.

To the extent that we all do this, 1992 can indeed become a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

I wish you all a Happy New Year.


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




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