Address to the National Council Of Provinces,
19 September 2003
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces,
Honourable Premiers and MECs,
I am delighted to be able to share a few thoughts with
Each September, we are all urged to renew our commitment
to the values that we hold dear and which bind us together
as enshrined in our Constitution.
We also acknowledge and appreciate our national symbols.
Our flag, the national anthem and coat of arms represent
our national identity, and should continue to entrench
pride and a sense of nationhood and patriotism to all
We also remember even the lesser-known national symbols,
such as the national flower, the protea, national animal,
the springbok, national tree, the yellowwood, the national
fish, the galjoen and the national bird, the blue crane.
Heritage month also provides for the explosion of cultural
celebrations, which express our heritage and promote
our cultural diversity.
We also have another cause for celebration. We are
only a few months away from the 10th anniversary of
the liberation of our country and people.
Heritage Month and Heritage Day provide us with an
opportunity to begin warm-up celebrations throughout
We have come a long way since 1994. We were a country
divided and a nation in turmoil, facing a bleak future.
From April 27, 1994, we went beyond expectations as
we managed to transcend hatred, bitterness and pain
and began to rebuild our country in a spirit of togetherness
It is therefore not surprising that many call our transition
to democracy a miracle.
As we celebrate, we will be remembering the determination,
commitment, hard work and sacrifices of thousands of
our people. From Mangaung, kaNyamazane, KwaMashu, Gugulethu,
Seshego, Galeshewe, Mafikeng, Soweto, Mdantsane, the
Cape Flats, Chatsworth and many other areas; the sacrifices
of countless South Africans laid the foundation for
our non-racial, non-sexist democracy.
There are a number of lessons that we learnt from resolving
our conflict, which inform our approach to issues and
in building our country.
We learnt, for example that working together, regardless
of our differences, was a recipe for success. That is
why this government believes in, and constantly promotes
partnerships with all sectors of society in rebuilding
We also learnt that regardless of conditions in any
conflict, peace is always achievable. If there is total
commitment, love for the people and country, honesty,
a clear vision of the way forward, and a concrete plan
of how to reach our destination, success is guaranteed.
The experience of the horrors of apartheid developed
and deepened our commitment to reconciliation. We needed
to eliminate the quest for retribution and inculcate
positive and constructive values.
Reconciliation was expressed in practical terms in
the inclusive nature of the multiparty negotiation process,
which allowed the representation of all political parties
irrespective of their size. This unique element ensured
Reconciliation was further expressed in the manner
in which the Interim Constitution was crafted, particularly
with regard to the constitutional imperative to establish
a Government of National Unity.
Another positive attribute for our nation is that we
decided to confront the demons of the past openly, through
the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The TRC was beneficial as a healing process to many
South Africans who were directly affected by apartheid
Honourable Members, our Constitution, remains the cornerstone
of our new nation and new democracy, and defines who
we are and what we want to achieve.
In drafting the Constitution, we were guided by key
values such as tolerance, respect for the views and
positions of other parties on issues, preparedness to
apply the principle of give and take during negotiations
and the commitment to put our past behind us while we
The preamble of our Constitution states this very clearly,
and I quote:
We, the people of South Africa,
Recognise the injustices of our past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our
and Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live
in it,united in our diversity.
"We therefore, through our freely elected representatives,
adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic
so as to:
Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society
based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental
Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society
in which government is based on the will of the people
and every citizen is equally protected by law;
Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free
the potential of each person; and
Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take
its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family
This is the vision that should continue to guide our
actions to build a dignified and prosperous future for
In marking Heritage Month, we also need to celebrate
the expansion of a better life to all since the achievement
of democracy in 1994.
Two successful rounds of democratic elections have
seen the consolidation of democracy and its extension
to the local level; and step-by-step South Africans
are uniting to help eradicate the legacy of racial division
Granted, we still have some way to go before we can
say there is universal access to services, but the progress
made so far is indeed remarkable.
The restoration of human dignity that we achieved in
1994 has to be accompanied by the eradication of poverty
and improvement in the quality of life. All government
departments execute their tasks with this objective
as one of their central points of reference.
Colleagues, while service delivery is important; also
critical is the manner in which public servants provide
The Batho Pele-People First Campaign is pursued to
inculcate among public servants the spirit of people-centred
quality service. It promotes our vision of a caring
government. We urge the public to help us monitor the
service provided by public servants through reporting
uncaring behaviour by public servants.
We recently acknowledged health care workers who provide
excellent care and support to patients, particularly
patients living with AIDS.
We commend such selflessness and dedication and encourage
it among all public servants.
Honourable Members, another attribute of the new democratic
dispensation is the accessibility of government services.
This is being enhanced by establishing Multi-Purpose
Community Centres among other initiatives. There are
currently 43 MPCCs in operation, with more to be established.
On the economic front, macro-economic stability has
been achieved and we had to ensure sustained economic
growth in a competitive and volatile global setting.
Internationally, South Africa's standing, and in particular
as a voice for development, peace and stability is acknowledged.
Our quest for stability has extended beyond our borders,
given this country's role in promoting development,
pursuing peace and democracy in the African continent.
Colleagues, we believe we have achieved so much as
a nation because we do not emphasise our differences,
but put South Africa and its people first.
We are a nation that confounds critics. We see strength
in our diversity while others may see diversity as a
threat or weakness.
Our different languages, cultures, customs and traditions
as well as geographical spread are all special ingredients
to the melting pot that is South Africa.
Most importantly, we are united in our quest for a
better life. We may differ in methods used in achieving
a better life for all, and would probably differ with
regards to the tally of what has been achieved in the
last 10 years, but that does not mean we should differ
with regard to the objectives. Building a better South
Africa and improving the quality of life of all our
people should be what drives us all.
We have come this far, and still have a long way to
go before we can say that all our goals have been achieved.
But we must acknowledge that we have made a good beginning.
Honourable Members, our democracy has gone through
a lot of trials and tribulations in the first decade.
It has passed all the tests, which is another reason
for us to celebrate.
One of these tests is the investigation of the Deputy
President by the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions.
This test has indicated the extent to which our democracy
has deepened, and how, contrary to the views of so-called
opinion makers who are saying the investigation has
weakened democracy, it has actually proven how strong
and mature our democracy has become.
It is only in a mature democracy where a Deputy President
of a country would be investigated, without any interference
or attempt to stop the investigation by Government or
the Deputy President himself.
In some established democracies, high office is protected
and incumbents are granted immunity. In our country,
all are equal before the law. We have never questioned
these principles; we respect them and abide by them.
The Deputy President has not interfered with the investigation,
and has taken appropriate steps within the law and his
rights to seek redress regarding the outcome of the
The investigation has been a test for other institutions
It has tested the maturity of state organs responsible
for investigations and the potential and capacity for
the abuse of power by individuals in these institutions.
It has also been a critical test for the media, whose
freedom we fought for, and which is enshrined in Clause
16 in the Constitution of our country.
The media is supposed to be an independent watchdog,
which does not and should not take sides in any conflict,
but seek to provide the public with information to allow
them to make up their own minds.
A professional media is supposed to remain true to
the ethics of
objectivity, fairness and balance and be open to all
sides of the story. The investigation has left many
questions, as to whether the media remained true to
these noble ethics, or whether it took a firm position
to vigorously support one party to the full, to further
The investigation has also been a test for political
parties, the extent to which they are prepared to assist
the democratic process constructively or whether they
choose to become "sound-bite" specialists,
swallowing any lead that they are given, to get media
The important outcome of this whole debacle is that
our democracy has so far not been shaken by it. It has
withstood the challenges because it is above individuals,
and is rooted on very strong foundations. This is what
opinion makers should be emphasizing.
This government should also be congratulated for adhering
to democratic principles and not being tempted to abuse
We are very proud to have inherited a priceless legacy
from the founding fathers and mothers of this new nation.
Let us treasure it and continue to build a prosperous
nation on the foundation of April 27, 1994.
I thank you.