Address by Deputy President Jacob Zuma
to the Reception on the Eve of the Opening of Parliament,
Cape Town International Convention Centre, 5 February
Our host, the Executive Mayor of the Cape Town Unicity
and other Mayors,
Presiding Officers of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures,
Minister and Deputy Ministers,
Honourable Members of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures,
embers of the business community,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
On behalf of Government, it is an honour and privilege
for me to be able to join the Cape Town Unicity in welcoming
back to Cape Town, all members of Parliament, as well
as the distinguished guests who have come to join us
for the opening of Parliament tomorrow.
This gathering, on the eve of the opening of the last
session of the second democratic Parliament, provides
us with an opportunity to celebrate the achievements
of the past decade, and reflect on the path ahead.
I always have mixed feelings when coming to Cape Town,
as this unique city is a place of contrasts, as it represents
both "sweet and bitter" memories at the same
The city provides a wonderful example of how our country
is changing. It was here that the first colonial conquest
of our country started, as this area was one of the
first contact points with Europe, some 500 years ago.
The city was also the centre of slavery in South Africa,
which was one of the most dehumanising practices ever
carried out by human beings to each other.
It was also here that the Union of South Africa, which
excluded the majority of our people, was decided upon
in 1910. All the oppressive apartheid laws were passed
by Parliament right here in Cape Town.
It was also here that the stalwarts of our movement
and many other freedom fighters were incarcerated on
Robben Island. Many of our traditional leaders, who
bravely fought colonialists, were also brought to this
city where they were jailed and humiliated.
However, decades later, Cape Town became a city of
hope, as it was here that the mass democratic struggle
received greater impetus when the United Democratic
Front was launched in 1983 at Mitchells Plein.
The UDF led one of the four pillars of our struggle,
the internal mass resistance to apartheid, the struggle
which culminated in the unbanning of the ANC and other
liberation movements and the release of political prisoners
in 1990, including our icon, former President Nelson
Mandela. It was also in Cape Town that the liberation
movement, convinced of the correctness of its negotiations
policy, signed the first ever agreement between the
apartheid government and the ANC, known as Groote Schuur
Minute in 1990.
It was also here that the first Constitution of a democratic
South Africa was signed on the lawns of Parliament in
1996, which declared that South Africa belongs to all
who live in it, and that all have equal rights in very
respect. It was also in this city that a major step
in the country's healing process was expressed, through
the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The TRC was a key building block in entrenching reconciliation.
We are therefore, tonight, coming together in a very
different Cape Town. It is now a major international
city that attract thousands of international tourists.
Robben Island is no longer a prison but a national monument
and a major tourist attraction. This, ladies and gentlemen,
is a reflection of the transformation that our country
has undergone. The experience of this city tells us
that good will triumph over evil, justice over injustice
and right over wrong.
I would not be exaggerating if I say that before 1994,
our country was on the brink of economic collapse. Its
was socially divided and politically volatile and clearly
on the verge of an open and full-scale civil war.
Today, South Africa is a model democracy, a stable
and peaceful country, with a steadily growing economy.
The first decade of our freedom is marked by two distinct
features. Firstly, our main task was that of eradicating
the legacy of apartheid, restoring human dignity, and
transforming the state from ruthless apartheid machinery
to a democratic system.
During the first term, working together, we ushered
in a democratic dispensation that was based on a human
rights culture and respect for the Constitution, whilst
stabilizing the country and embarking on nation building
Nation Building has been a central thrust of our government
policy as reflected through the Government of National
Unity between the ANC, the New National Party and Ikatha
Freedom Party during the first term.
The ANC/IFP co-operation nationally, in the second
term, as well as co-operative governance between the
ANC and NNP here in the Western Cape, and ANC and IFP
in KwaZulu-Natal currently, have been some of the elements
underscoring the nation building process.
The second term from 1999 has strongly focused on delivering
basic services, generally improving the quality of life
and acceleration the pace of change. The state machinery
and to be transformed to meet these priorities.
The fist decade of our freedom has therefore seen much
progress in many facets. It is not my intention to pre-empt
what the President will say in the State of the Nation
address tomorrow, and I will therefore contain my enthusiasm,
suffice to say that I believe that we have a lot to
As we do so, we will also be mindful of the numerous
challenges that still face us, key among which is the
eradication of poverty ad improving the living conditions
of the poor and historically marginalised in our country.
As the Parliamentary session begins tomorrow, we should,
as public representatives, be ready to join our constituencies
and be part of the 10th Year Anniversary celebrations,
regardless of which side of the political divide we
The freedom gained in 1994 was the freedom of all South
Africans, regardless of race, colour or creed. Therefore,
the achievements of the past decade are the achievements
of all South Africans.
The 10th Year anniversary celebrations should serve
as a reminder that we should never forget where we come
from, as it will make us appreciate the present, and
work hard for a better tomorrow for future generations.
I thank You.