Address by Deputy President Jacob Zuma to the Reception on the Eve of the Opening of Parliament, Cape Town International Convention Centre, 5 February 2004

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,
Distinguished guests,

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 time.
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 and reconciliation.
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 celebrate.

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 come from.

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.

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