Address by Deputy President Jacob Zuma
on the "Ten Years of Freedom in South Africa",
to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing,
People's Republic of China, 28 September 2004
Professor Chen, the President of the Chinese Academy
of Social Sciences,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellency the South African Ambassador to the
People's Republic of China,
Your Excellencies the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and
all members of the Diplomatic Corps,
The South African business delegation,
It is a great honour for my delegation and I to be
in this great country, amongst longstanding comrades
I am truly delighted to be given the opportunity of
sharing with you the story of our beloved country, South
Africa, during this very special year as we celebrate
10 years of freedom and democracy.
We are also privileged to be with you during the special
evening of the Moon Festival, when the warmth of families
and friends are celebrated. We wish you and your loved
ones all of the best during this occasion.
Distinguished guests, today marked another milestone
in the close and cordial relations between South Africa
We had the pleasure of meeting with His Excellency
President Hu Jintao, with my good friend, Vice President
Zeng Qinghong, and also with Chairman Wu Bagguo and
Premier Wen Jiabao, to exchange ideas on the way forward
in our relationship.
We re-affirmed the strategic partnership between our
two countries, and our resolve to continue working together,
to deepen our co-operation in the bilateral and multilateral
Before coming to Beijing, earlier this week, we had
the pleasure of visiting the city of Shenzhen, and were
impressed by the spectacular economic development experienced
over the past 20 years. We could see first-hand, the
spectacular results of the far-sighted leadership and
vision of the late Deng Xiaoping.
Ladies and gentlemen, as said earlier, I am honoured
to be able to share with you the story of my country,
which has been transformed from a pariah state to a
stable democracy and a respected member of the international
community, within a very short space of time.
On 27 April 1994, South Africans voted together for
the first time and ushered in democracy and freedom,
and dealt a final blow to apartheid and racism. The
victory over apartheid can be regarded as one of the
greatest international achievements of the last decade
of the 20th century.
We reiterate our gratitude to the Chinese people for
your contribution to this achievement, through the all-round
support you gave us during the struggle for liberation.
From 1994, the new democratic government, led by Nelson
Mandela, our country's first democratically-elected
President, promoted reconciliation between the former
oppressors and formerly oppressed. The purpose was to
build a new nation, free of hatred and revenge.
After a smooth transition from the Mandela Presidency
to that of Mr Thabo Mbeki in 1999, this policy of reconciliation
continued. That very transition between the two Presidents,
within only five years, at a party political and government
level, was in itself an indication of the maturity of
our democracy and of the ruling party's leadership,
and boosted confidence in the new democracy locally
For the formerly oppressed to see change in their lives,
we had to immediately restructure the state to make
it people-centred, and to urgently remove racist laws
from the statute books.
The Constitution and over 780 pieces of legislation
have created a framework for the reshaping South Africa.
Distinguished guests, many people wonder how a society
previously steeped in conflict and hostility, governed
through a political system of apartheid which had been
declared as a crime against humanity, could achieve
harmony, peace, stability and socio-economic and political
progress in only 10 years.
We believe that historians should in all honesty give
due credit to the sound leadership and foresight of
the ruling party, the African National Congress, in
In order to succeed, South Africa needed a political
leadership that was forward looking and who had a clear
agenda and vision of what a new South Africa should
It needed a leadership that would unite both the oppressed
and oppressors and lead them into a future filled with
hope and promise.
The ANC provided that kind of leadership, through putting
the interest of the whole country first, and inculcated
that culture to political parties and the population
as a whole.
An advantage as well was that during the long and protracted
struggle, the ANC prepared itself to govern, and had
a clear vision of what kind of society it wanted to
produce, in the advent of freedom. Therefore as soon
as Nelson Mandela formed the first government, the ANC
knew exactly what it needed to do to transform the country.
Such foresight and sound strategic planning assisted
in ensuring a sustainable outcome during the political
negotiations from 1990. The negotiations laid a firm
foundation for an inclusive multiparty non-racial democracy.
We ensured a successful result through the following:
· The negotiations were inclusive, more than
25 political parties participated, and this made the
outcome acceptable to the majority.
· We confronted our political problems head on,
and negotiated them directly. By the time we came to
the drafting of the Constitution, the document was not
seen as an instrument to solve political problems. Our
Constitution provides a solid foundation for our democracy,
with a specific emphasis on human rights, with built
in checks and balances in Chapter 9, which establishes
institutions that protect every citizen. These include
the Public Protector, Human Rights Commission and the
Commission on Gender Equality.
· We invested heavily in real reconciliation,
and this included the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation
Commission, not for retribution, but to uncover the
truth, and achieve forgiveness and amnesty based on
Within a short space of time, we achieved political
stability, and created the right environment to focus
on socio-economic development, an area in which we have
also made tremendous progress.
The living conditions of the black majority have been
considerably improved. Millions of people now have access
to services they never could access before, such as
clean piped water, housing, electricity, health care,
and education to mention a few.
Economic recovery and the achievement of macroeconomic
stability were amongst the democratic Government's top
priorities. In this regard, carefully designed economic
policies have been implemented to provide domestic and
international business confidence.
We have had almost continuous growth since 1994 which
has created jobs, but unfortunately not enough to keep
up with the increased number of people looking for employment.
We must admit that while we have achieved a lot, there
are challenges that still remain. We still have to extend
access to social services to more people, create jobs
and continue the agenda of eradicating poverty. There
are a number of programmes in this regard and time does
not allow us to elaborate and outline them.
As you are aware these are challenges that face many
developing countries, and which require the creation
of the right global environment for them to address.
We therefore continue to work with partners in the developing
South, to call for the transformation of relations between
the developed North and developing South, to establish
relations that are based on equality and mutual respect.
We are also calling for the transformation of multilateral
relations, through for example the reform of the United
Nations system, and the international economic and financial
institutions, the World Trade Organisation, the World
Bank and International Monetary Fund. We are pleased
to have China as a partner in pushing this agenda of
We must emphasise that while calling for a reform of
the UN, we also strongly support its role in maintaining
order in international relations, and believe it is
the only body that should undertake this responsibility
in the world.
Building on the solid foundation of a shared global
political vision and accelerating economic interaction,
China and South Africa, have a strategic opportunity
to cement South-South cooperation in advancing reform
of the existing global order.
Distinguished guests, our growth and development is
intimately linked to that of the rest of the African
continent. Therefore the success of the African Union,
and the New Partnership for Africa's Development, (NEPAD),
Africa's socio-economic blueprint, are of paramount
importance to us.
We view African problems as our problems, as we cannot
be an island of peace and development in the midst of
poverty and conflict. That is why we are participating
in peacemaking and peacekeeping in the continent. The
democratic South Africa is now known as an exporter
of peace, as opposed to the role that apartheid South
Africa played, as an aggressive neighbour in the region.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a lot that has been
achieved in the last 10 years. We have a clear idea
of the challenges that remain, and have plans in place
to tackle them and accelerate access to a better life.
We are also convinced as we enter the second decade,
that political stability and reconciliation will hold
and that there can be no turning back.
A powerful indication of this is the fact that a few
months ago, the National Party, the architects of apartheid,
and the party that imprisoned Nelson Mandela and scores
of others for so many years and dehumanised the entire
black population of our country for decades, adopted
the fundamental policy document of the ANC, the Freedom
The party also resolved to dissolve at the appropriate
time permitted for parties to dissolve mid-term, and
advised its members to join the ANC in the meantime.
This was indeed a triumph for progressive political
thought and ideas, and for reconciliation and nation
building in our country.
Most importantly for us, we have the support of the
South African population in everything we do, as evident
in the increasing electoral majority that the ruling
party receives during each election.
I thank the People's Republic of China for partnering
us in this mammoth task of rebuilding our country, in
the interests of mutual benefit.
I thank you.
The Presidency: Republic of South Africa