Statement of the President of the Republic
of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, After His Election by
the National Assembly as President of the Republic,
Cape Town 23 April 2004
Honourable Members of the National Assembly
I would like to thank the Honourable Members for electing
me to the high post of President of the Republic. My
thanks also go to our Chief Justice, Arthur Chaskalson,
for convening our third democratic National Assembly
and guiding its proceedings earlier today.
At the same time, I am honoured to congratulate you,
Madame Speaker, and your Deputy for the privilege you
have been accorded to preside over the proceedings of
this important Chamber. Similarly, I am pleased to congratulate
the Honourable Members on their election by our people
to serve as their public representatives and wish you
success in your work over the next five years.
During the election campaign, all the political parties
represented in this House undertook that, if elected
to govern our country, they would do many things that
would help to improve the quality of the lives of millions
of our people.
Together we recognised and spoke about the reality
that despite the fact of our hard-won freedom and democracy,
very many of our people continue to lead miserable lives.
Together we spoke about the challenges of unemployment
and poverty; of lives destroyed by disease and crime;
of the unfinished work of ending the racial and gender
imbalances that continue to characterise our society;
and of the need to strive further to achieve the related
goals of national reconciliation and social transformation.
I am certain that even those who only experienced the
election campaign by watching its television coverage
could not have missed the great enthusiasm with which
the electorate welcomed the opportunity to choose our
national and provincial governments.
This was both a vote of confidence in our democratic
system and a message to all of us present here, of the
expectation of the masses of our people that the legislatures
and governments they would vote for would do everything
necessary further to change their lives for the better.
Whatever anyone and all of us might have said during
the election campaign, we are aware of our people's
sincere appreciation of the changes that have taken
place during the last 10 years. That appreciation also
tells us what else we need to do to respond to the needs
of our people.
The fact that our country has done what it has, also
tells the people that we can do more. Indeed, it would
be entirely logical and correct that these masses should
expect that we will even do better than in the past,
given the experience we have accumulated over the last
Throughout the election campaign we also tried to inspire
the people to participate and involve themselves in
the process of the reconstruction and development of
our country. As in the past, we must therefore continue
to project the vision and actively encourage a people-driven
process of change.
Gathered in this House is an important segment of our
country's national leadership. This leadership has a
continuing responsibility to ensure that together we
respond to the needs of our people, about which we all
spoke during the election campaign.
We share a common responsibility to encourage our political
organisations as well as inspire and mobilise the people,
to join hands in a popular national movement to speed
up the process towards the achievement of the goal of
a better life for all our people.
I trust that in addition to your work as lawmakers,
you will also contribute to the national effort to ensure
that we actually succeed further to improve the lives
of our people.
Equally, the national and provincial governments that
will be constituted next week will have the task to
ensure that we achieve faster and better progress in
this regard during the imminent first five years of
our Second Decade of Democracy. We, for our part, will
do our best to encourage government to live up to this
Once more, I would like to thank the Honourable Members
for electing me as President of the Republic and look
forward to working with you as we, together, continue
to serve the people of South Africa as best we can.
Issued by: The Presidency
23 April 2004