Nelson Mandela’s First State of the Nation Address

Madame Speaker and Deputy Speaker,
President of the Senate and Deputy
Deputy Presidents,
Chief Justice,
Distinguished members
of the National Assembly and the Senate,
Provincial Premiers,
of the Security Forces,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Esteemed guests,
Ladies and gentlemen.
The time will come when our nation will honour the memory of all the sons,
the daughters, the mothers, the fathers, the youth and the children who, by
their thoughts and deeds, gave us the right to assert with pride that we are
South Africans, that we are Africans and that we are citizens of the world.

The certainties that come with age tell me that among these we shall find an
Afrikaner woman who transcended a particular experience and became a South
African, an African and a citizen of the world.

Her name is Ingrid Jonker.

She was both a poet and a South African. She was both an Afrikaner and an
African. She was both an artist and a human being.

In the midst of despair, she celebrated hope. Confronted with death, she
asserted the beauty of life.

In the dark days when all seemed hopeless in our country, when many refused
to hear her resonant voice, she took her own life.

To her and others like her, we owe a debt to life itself. To her and others
like her, we owe a commitment to the poor, the oppressed, the wretched and the

In the aftermath of the massacre at the anti-pass demonstration in
Sharpeville she wrote that:

“The child is not dead…
the child lifts his fists against his mother
shouts Africa!…

The child is not dead
Not at Langa nor at Nyanga
nor at Orlando nor at
nor at the police post at Philippi
where he lies with a bullet
through his brain…

the child is present at all assemblies and law-giving
the child peers
through the windows of houses
and into the hearts of mothers
this child
who only wanted to play in the sun at Nyanga
is everywhere

the child grown to a man treks on through all Africa
the child grown to a
giant journeys
over the whole world
without a pass!”

And in this glorious vision, she instructs that our endeavours must be about
the liberation of the woman, the emancipation of the man and the liberty of the

It is these things that we must achieve to give meaning to our presence in
this chamber and to give purpose to our occupancy of the seat of government.
And so we must, constrained by and yet regardless of the accumulated effect
of our historical burdens, seize the time to define for ourselves what we want
to make of our shared destiny.

The government I have the honour to lead and I dare say the masses who
elected us to serve in this role, are inspired by the single vision of creating
a people-centred society.

Accordingly, the purpose that will drive this government shall be the
expansion of the frontiers of human fulfilment, the continuous extension of the
frontiers of the freedom.

The acid test of the legitimacy of the programmes we elaborate, the
government institutions we create, the legislation we adopt must be whether they
serve these objectives.

Our single most important challenge is therefore to help establish a social
order in which the freedom of the individual will truly mean the freedom of the

We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner
that it guarantees the political and the human rights of all our citizens.
As an affirmation of the government’s commitment to an entrenched human
rights culture, we shall immediately take steps to inform the Secretary General
of the United Nations that we will subscribe to the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights.

We shall take steps to ensure that we accede to the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Social and Economic
Rights and other human rights instruments of the United Nations.
Our definition of the freedom of the individual must be instructed by the
fundamental objective to restore the human dignity of each and every South

This requires that we speak not only of political freedoms.
My government’s commitment to create a people-centred society of liberty
binds us to the pursuit of the goals of freedom from want, freedom from hunger,
freedom from deprivation, freedom from ignorance, freedom from suppression and
freedom from fear.

These freedoms are fundamental to the guarantee of human dignity. They will
therefore constitute part of the centrepiece of what this government will seek
to achieve, the focal point on which our attention will be continuously

The things we have said constitute the true meaning, the justification and
the purpose of the Reconstruction and Development Programme, without which it
would lose all legitimacy.

When we elaborated this Programme we were inspired by the hope that all South
Africans of goodwill could join together to provide a better life for all. We
were pleased that other political organisations announced similar aims.

Today, I am happy to announce that the Cabinet of the Government of National
Unity has reached consensus not only on the broad objective of the creation of
the people-centred society of which I have spoken, but also on many elements of
a plan broadly based on that Programme for Reconstruction and Development.

Let me indicate some of the more important agreements. Annually, in the
combined budgets of central government and the provinces, we will provide for an
increasing amount of funding for the plan.

This will start with an appropriation of R2,5 billion in the 1994/95 budget
that will be presented next month. This should rise to more than R10 billion by
the fifth year of the life of this government.

Government will also use its own allocation of funds to the Reconstruction
and Development Plan to exert maximum leverage in marshalling funds from within
South Africa and abroad.

In this regard, I am pleased to report that we have been holding consultation
with some of the principal business leaders of our country.

Consequently, we are assured that the business sector can and will make a
significant contribution towards the structuring and management of such
reconstruction and development funds, towards the effective identification and
implementation of projects and by supporting the financing of the socio-economic
development effort.

I am also pleased to report that many of our friends abroad have already made
commitments to assist us to generate the reconstruction and development funds we

We thank them most sincerely for their positive attitude which arises not
from objectives of charity but from the desire to express solidarity with the
new society we seek to build.

We accept the duty of coordinating the management of the total resources that
will be generated, without seeking to prescribe to other contributors or
undermining the continued role of non-governmental organisations and
community-based organisations.

The initial R2,5 billion will be found from savings and the redirection of
spending, as included in the preliminary 1994/95 budget proposals presented to

I would like to thank the departments of state for their cooperation in
carrying out this adjustment to their planning, at short notice.

As we allocate larger amount in future, we shall require further adjustments
by departments, partly to correct the bias in the spending patterns which are a
legacy of the past.

The longer period shall allow such changes to be properly planned. But they
will still make great demands on the managerial capacity and spirit of
cooperation of the Cabinet and the whole civil service.

We are confident that, motivated by the desire to serve the people, the
public service will discharge its responsibilities with diligence, sensitivity
and enthusiasm, among other things paying attention to the important goal of
increasing efficiency and productivity.

My government is equally committed to ensure that we use this longer period
properly fully to bring into the decision-making processes organs of civil

This will include the trade union movement and civic organisations, so that
at no time should the government become isolated from the people. At the same
time, steps will be taken to build the capacity of communities to manage their
own affairs.

Precisely because we are committed to ensuring sustainable growth and
development leading to a better life for all, we will continue existing
programmes of fiscal rehabilitation.

We are therefore determined to make every effort to contain real general
government consumption at present levels and to manage the budget deficit with a
view to its continuous reduction.

Similarly, we are agreed that a permanently higher general level of taxation
is to be avoided.

To achieve these important objectives will require consistent discipline on
the part of both the central and the provincial governments.

Furthermore, this disciplined approach will ensure that we integrate the
objectives of our Reconstruction and Development Plan within government
expenditure and not treat them as incidental to the tasks of government,
marginalised to the status of mere additions to the level of expenditure.
There are major areas of desperate need in our society.

As a signal of its seriousness to address these, the government will, within
the next 100 days, implement various projects under the direct supervision of
the President. Let me briefly mention these.

Children under the age of six and pregnant mothers will receive free medical
care in every state hospital and clinic where such need exists. Similarly, a
nutritional feeding scheme will be implemented in every primary school where
such need is established. A concrete process of consultation between the major
stakeholders in this area will be organised immediately.

A programme is already being implemented to electrify 350 000 homes during
the current financial year.

A campaign will be launched at every level of government, a public works
programme designed and all efforts made to involve the private sector, organised
labour, the civics and other community organisations to rebuild our townships,
restore services in rural and urban areas, while addressing the issue of job
creation and training, especially for our unemployed youth.

Many details of the overall reconstruction and development plan remain to be
discussed, agreed and put in place. But I believe that the broad outline I have
given and the immediate initiatives I have mentioned, will allow you to share my
joy at the progress already made by the Government of National Unity with regard
to this important matter.

We shall carry out this plan within the context of a policy aimed at building
a strong and growing economy which will benefit all our people.
I would like to deal with a few matters in this regard.

In support of sustainable economic growth and the macro-economic objective of
Government, it will remain the primary objective of monetary policy to promote
and maintain overall financial stability.

The Reserve Bank has the important function of protecting the value of our
currency and striving for relative price stability at all times.

We are pleased that Dr Chris Stals will continue to serve as Governor of the
Reserve Bank.

The battle to reduce the rate of inflation will continue. The realisation of
many of our objectives for a fair and equal treatment of all our people will not
be possible unless we succeed in avoiding high inflation in the economy.
We also face a major challenge in re-entering the global economy, while
stable prices are vital to the restructuring of our industries and dealing with
the critical issue of job-creation.

We are blessed with a heritage of a sophisticated financial sector. Our
financial markets are well-placed to play an important part in the allocation of
scarce funds to give effect to our economic development programme.
It is however also necessary that we think in new ways, to meet the
challenges of reconstruction and development.

We therefore welcome recent developments that provide for the creation of
community banks. We would also like to encourage the greater participation of
established financial institutions in the important area of black economic
empowerment and support for the development of small and medium business.

The latter two areas of economic activity will receive the greatest attention
of the Government because of their importance in deracialising and democratising
the economy and creating the jobs which our people need.

We pay attention to the important matter of consumer protection to shield the
ordinary people of our country from unscrupulous business practices.
We must also clear that we must pay increased attention to tourism. The jobs
and foreign currency which tourism generates will strongly influence our

The active and imaginative intervention of all stake stakeholders in this
area of our national life must take advantage of the excellent atmosphere
created by our peaceful transition to democracy to make tourism a major positive
force in the future.

We look forward to the private sector as a whole playing a central role in
achieving the signi-ficantly high and sustainable rates of economic growth.
We are convinced that the growth prospects of this sector will be enhanced by
the measures of fiscal discipline contained in our approach to the
Reconstruction and Development Programme and by the continued steady course of
monetary policy.

As growth proceeds, more domestic savings will progressively become available
to finance increased investment at reasonable rates of interest.

The Government is also acutely conscious of the fact that we should work
firstly to return the capital account of the balance of payments to equilibrium
and, in due course, to ensure a net inflow of resources, consistent with the
experience of other countries that enjoy more rapid growth rates.

The present situation of a dual currency and the existence of an exchange
control apparatus is a direct result of the conflict in which our country was
embroiled in the past.

As the situation returns to normal, these arrangements will be subjected to
critical scrutiny. It should be possible to match the steady growth of
confidence at home and abroad with other confidence enhancing modifications to
everybody’s benefit.

The Government will also address all other matters that relate the creation
of an attractive investment climate for both domestic and foreign investors,
conscious of the fact that we have to compete with the rest of the world in
terms of attracting, in particular, foreign direct investment.

I am pleased that we have already started to address the important question
of our trade policy, guided by our GATT commitments and the determination
systematically to open the economy to global competition in a carefully managed

Soon we will also begin trade negotiations with, among others, the European
Union, the United States, our partners in the Southern African Customs Unions
and our neighbours in the Southern African Development Community to provide a
stable and mutually beneficial framework for our international economic

We will also be looking very closely at the question of enhancing South-South
cooperation in general as part of the effort to expand our economic links with
the rest of the world.

Consistent with our objective of creating a people-centred society and
effectively to address the critical questions of growth, reconstruction and
development, we will, together with organised labour and the private sector, pay
special attention to the issue of human resource development.

Both the public and the private sectors will be encouraged to regard labour
as a resource and not a cost. Education and training must therefore be looked at
very closely to ensure that we empower the workers, raise productivity levels
and meet the skills needs of a modern economy.

Important work will have to be done in and significant resources devoted to
the areas of science and technology, including research and development.
Government is also convinced that organised labour is an important partner
whose cooperation is crucial for the reconstruction and development of our

That partnership requires, among other things, that our labour law be
reformed so that it is in line with international standards, apartheid vestiges
are removed and a more harmonious labour relations dispensation is created, on
the basis of tripartite cooperation between government, labour and capital.

The Government is determined forcefully to confront the scourge of
unemployment, not by way of handouts but by the creation of work

The Government will also deal sensitively with the issue of population
movements into the country, to protect our workers, to guard against the
exploitation of vulnerable workers and to ensure friendly relations with all
countries and peoples.

The Government is also taking urgent measures to deal firmly with drug
trafficking some of which is carried out by foreign nationals who are resident
in the country.

We must end racism in the workplace as part of our common offensive against
racism in general. No more should words like Kaffirs, Hottentots, Coolies, Boy,
Girl and Baas be part of our vocabulary.

I also trust that the matter of paying the workers for the public holidays
proclaimed in order to ensure their participation in the elections and the
inauguration ceremonies will now be resolved as a result of recent

This would be a welcome demonstration by the private sector of its
involvement in the beautiful future we are all trying to build.

We have devoted time to a discussion of economic questions because they are
fundamental to the realisation of the fundamental objectives of the
reconstruction and development programme

Below I mention some of the work in which the relevant governments are
already involved to translate these objectives into reality.

The Government will take steps to ensure the provision of clean water on the
basis of the principle of water security for all and the introduction of proper
sanitation sensitive to the protection of the environment.

We are determined to address the dire housing shortage in a vigorous manner,
acting together with the private sector and the communities in need of

Health also remains a fundamental building block of the humane society we are
determined to create through the implementation of the Reconstruction and
Development Programme.

We must address the needs of the aged and disabled, uplift disadvantaged
sectors such as the women and the youth, and improve the lives of our people in
the rural communities and the informal settlements.

We must invest substantial amounts in education and training and meet our
commitment to introduce free and compulsory education for a period of at least 9
years. Everywhere we must reinculcate the culture of learning and of teaching
and make it possible for this culture to thrive.

We must combat such social pathologies as widespread poverty, the break down
of family life, crime, alcohol and drug abuse, the abuse of children, women and
the elderly and the painful reality of street children. We are giving urgent
attention to the long waiting lists for the payment of social grants which have
developed in some areas, owing to lack of funds.

I am especially pleased that we have a ministry dedicated to the issue of the
environment. Its work must impact on many aspects of national activity and
address the question of the well-being of society as a whole and the
preservation of a healthy environmental future even for generation not yet

As we began this address, we borrowed the words of Ingrid Jonker to focus on
the plight of the children our country.

I would now like to say that the Government will, as a matter of urgency,
attend to the tragic and complex question of children and juveniles in detention
and prison.

The basic principle from which we will proceed from now onwards is that we
must rescue the children of the nation and ensure that the system of criminal
justice must be the very last resort in the case of juvenile offenders.

I have therefore issued instruction to the Departments concerned, as a matter
of urgency, to work out the necessary guidelines which will enable us to empty
our prisons of children and to place them in suitable alternative care. This is
in addition to an amnesty for various categories serving prisoners as will be
effected in terms of what I said in my Inauguration Address two week ago.

In this context, I also need to make the point that the Government will also
not delay unduly with regard to attending to the vexed and unresolved issue of
an amnesty for criminal activities carried out in furtherance of political

We will attend to this matter in a balanced and dignified way. The nation
must come to terms with its past in a spirit of openness and forgiveness and
proceed to build the future on the basis of repairing and healing.

The burden of the past lies heavily on all of us, including those responsible
for inflicting injury and those who suffered.

Following the letter and the spirit of the Constitution, we will prepare the
legislation which will seek to free the wrongdoers from fear of retribution and
blackmail, while acknowledging the injury of those who have been harmed so that
the individual wrongs, injuries, fears and hopes affecting individuals are
identified and attended to.

In the meantime, summoning the full authority of the position represent, we
call on all concerned not to take any steps that might, in any way, impede or
compromise the processes of reconciliation which the impending legislation will

The problem of politically motivated violence is still with us. We depend on
our country’s security forces to deal with this problem using all resources at
their disposal. In this, and in their efforts to deal especially criminal
violence, they have our personal support and confidence.

We have also directed that all relevant ministries should engage the
structures set up in terms of the National Peace Accord so that these can be
invigorated to pursue their noble mission in the context of the changed
circumstances in our country.

The Government will otherwise not spare any effort in ensuring that our
security forces enjoy the standing they deserve of being accepted by all our
people the defenders of our sovereignty, our democratic system, the guarantors
of a just peace within the country and the safety and security of all citizens
and their property.

Let met also take this opportunity to reiterate our assurance to the rest of
the public service that the Government is firmly committed to the protection of
the rights of all members of this service.

We are also determined to work with the organisations of the service to
ensure that we have the democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, honest and
accountable corps of public servants which members of the Public Service
themselves desire.

In this context, we must also make the observation that the Government will
not waver from the principle of achieving parity in remuneration and conditions
of service among all workers in the public sector.

The youth of our country are the valued possession of the nation. Without
them there can be no future. Their needs are immense and urgent. They are at the
centre of our reconstruction and development plan.

To address them, acting with the youth themselves, the Government will engage
the representative organisations of the youth and other formations, among other
things to look at the siting of a broad-based National Commission on Youth
Development among the structures of Government.

Building on this base, the Government and the Commission would then work
together to ensure that the nurturing of our youth stands at the centre of our
reconstruction and development, without being consigned to a meaningless ghetto
of public life.

Similar considerations must attach to the equally important question of the
emancipation of the women of our country.

It is vitally important that all structures of Government, including the
President himself, should understand this fully that freedom cannot be achieved
unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.

All of us must take this on board that the objectives of the Reconstruction
and Development Programme will not have been realised unless we see in visible
and practical terms that the condition of the women of our country has radically
changed for the better and that they have been empowered to intervene in all
aspects of life as equals with any other member of society.

In addition to the establishment of the statutory Gender Commission provided
for in the Constitution, the Government will, together with the representatives
of the women themselves, look at the establishment of organs of Government to
ensure that all levels of the public sector, from top to bottom, integrate the
central issue of the emancipation of women in their programmes and daily

Tomorrow, on Africa Day, the dream of Ingrid Jonker will come to fruition.
The child grown to a man will trek through all Africa. The child grown to a
journey will journey over the whole world – without a pass!

Tomorrow, on Africa Day, our new flag will be hoisted in an historic ceremony
at the OAU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, with the OAU having already agreed to
accept us as its latest member.

Tomorrow, on Africa Day, the UN Security Council will meet to lift the last
remaining sanctions against South Africa and to position the world organisation
to relate to our country as an honoured, responsible and peace-loving

As such, the Government is involved in discussion to determine what our
contribution could be to the search for peace in Angola and Rwanda, to the
reinforcement of the peace process in Mozambique, to the establishment of a new
world order of mutually beneficial cooperation, justice, prosperity and peace
for ourselves and for the nations of the world.

Yesterday the Cabinet also decided to apply for our country to join the
Commonwealth. This important community of nations is waiting to receive us with
open arms.

We have learnt the lesson that our blemishes speak of what all humanity
should not do. We understand this fully that our glories point to the heights of
what human genius can achieve.

In our dreams we have a vision of all our country at play in our sportsfields
and enjoying deserved and enriching recreation in our theatres, galleries,
beaches, mountains, plains and game parks, in conditions of peace, security and

Our road to that glorious future lies through collective hard work to
accomplish the objective of creating a people-centred society through the
implementation of the vision contained in our reconstruction and development

Let us all get down to work!


Source: SA – The Good News via