Inauguration Speeches – 1994

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Cape Town,
9 May 1994

Mr. Master
of Ceremonies,
Your Excellencies,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
My Fellow South Africans:

Today we
are entering a new era for our country and its people. Today we celebrate not
the victory of a party, but a victory for all the people of South Africa.

country has arrived at a decision. Among all the parties that contested the
elections, the overwhelming majority of South Africans have mandated the
African National Congress to lead our country into the future. The South Africa
we have struggled for, in which all our people, be they African, Coloured,
Indian or White, regard themselves as citizens of one nation is at hand.

Perhaps it
was history that ordained that it be here, at the Cape of Good Hope that we
should lay the foundation stone of our new nation. For it was here at this
Cape, over three centuries ago, that there began the fateful convergence of the
peoples of Africa, Europe and Asia on these shores.

It was to
this peninsula that the patriots, among them many princes and scholars, of
Indonesia were dragged in chains. It was on the sandy plains of this peninsula
that first battles of the epic wars of resistance were fought.

When we
look out across Table Bay, the horizon is dominated by Robben Island, whose
infamy as a dungeon built to stifle the spirit of freedom is as old as
colonialism in South Africa. For three centuries that island was seen as a
place to which outcasts can be banished. The names of those who were
incarcerated on Robben Island is a roll call of resistance fighters and
democrats spanning over three centuries. If indeed this is a Cape of Good Hope,
that hope owes much to the spirit of that legion of fighters and others of
their calibre.

We have
fought for a democratic constitution since the 1880s. Ours has been a quest for
a constitution freely adopted by the people of South Africa, reflecting their
wishes and their aspirations. The struggle for democracy has never been a
matter pursued by one race, class, religious community or gender among South
Africans. In honouring those who fought to see this day arrive, we honour the
best sons and daughters of all our people. We can count amongst them Africans,
Coloureds, Whites, Indians, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews – all of them
united by a common vision of a better life for the people of this country.

It was
that vision that inspired us in 1923 when we adopted the first ever Bill of
Rights in this country. That same vision spurred us to put forward the African
Claims in 1946. It is also the founding principle of the Freedom Charter we
adopted as policy in 1955, which in its very first lines, places before South
Africa an inclusive basis for citizenship.

In 1980s the
African National Congress was still setting the pace, being the first major
political formation in South Africa to commit itself firmly to a Bill of
Rights, which we published in November 1990. These milestones give concrete
expression to what South Africa can become. They speak of a constitutional,
democratic, political order in which, regardless of colour, gender, religion,
political opinion or sexual orientation, the law will provide for the equal
protection of all citizens.

project a democracy in which the government, whomever that government may be,
will be bound by a higher set of rules, embodied in a constitution, and will
not be able govern the country as it pleases.

is based on the majority principle. This is especially true in a country such
as ours where the vast majority have been systematically denied their rights.
At the same time, democracy also requires that the rights of political and
other minorities be safeguarded.

In the
political order we have established there will regular, open and free
elections, at all levels of government – central, provincial and municipal.
There shall also be a social order which respects completely the culture,
language and religious rights of all sections of our society and the
fundamental rights of the individual.

The task
at hand on will not be easy. But you have mandated us to change South Africa
from a country in which the majority lived with little hope, to one in which
they can live and work with dignity, with a sense of self-esteem and confidence
in the future. The cornerstone of building a better life of opportunity,
freedom and prosperity is the Reconstruction and Development Programme.

This needs
unity of purpose. It needs in action. It requires us all to work together to
bring an end to division, an end to suspicion and build a nation united in our

The people
of South Africa have spoken in these elections. They want change! And change is
what they will get. Our plan is to create jobs, promote peace and
reconciliation, and to guarantee freedom for all South Africans. We will tackle
the widespread poverty so pervasive among the majority of our people. By
encouraging investors and the democratic state to support job creating projects
in which manufacturing will play a central role we will try to change our
country from a net exporter of raw materials to one that exports finished
products through beneficiation.

government will devise policies that encourage and reward productive enterprise
among the disadvantaged communities – African, Coloured and Indian. By easing
credit conditions we can assist them to make inroads into the productive and
manufacturing spheres and breakout of the small-scale distribution to which
they are presently confined.

To raise
our country and its people from the morass of racism and apartheid will require
determination and effort. As a government, the ANC will create a legal
framework that will assist, rather than impede, the awesome task of
reconstruction and development of our battered society.

While we
are and shall remain fully committed to the spirit of a government of national
unity, we are determined to initiate and bring about the change that our
mandate from the people demands.

We place
our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as
conquerors, prescribing to the conquered. We speak as fellow citizens to heal
the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based on
justice for all.

This is
the challenge that faces all South Africans today, and it is one to which I am
certain we will all rise.

Issued by:

Department of Information and Publicity,
P.O. Box 61884,
Marshalltown 2107,

Tuesday 14 June 2011 17:05

“We saw our country tear itself apart in terrible conflict … The time for healing of wounds has come … Never, never again will this beautiful land experience the oppression of one by another.”




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10 May 1994 – at the inauguration

Your Highnesses,
Distinguished Guests,
Comrades and Friends.

Today, all
of us do, by our presence here, and by our celebrations in other parts of our
country and the world, confer glory and hope to newborn liberty.

Out of the
experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be
born a society of which all humanity will be proud.

Our daily
deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality
that will reinforce humanity’s belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in
the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life
for all.

All this
we owe both to ourselves and to the peoples of the world who are so well
represented here today.

To my
compatriots, I have no hesitation in saying that each one of us is as
intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous
jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld.

Each time
one of us touches the soil of this land, we feel a sense of personal renewal.
The national mood changes as the seasons change.

We are
moved by a sense of joy and exhilaration when the grass turns green and the
flowers bloom.

spiritual and physical oneness we all share with this common homeland explains
the depth of the pain we all carried in our hearts as we saw our country tear
itself apart in a terrible conflict, and as we saw it spurned, outlawed and
isolated by the peoples of the world, precisely because it has become the
universal base of the pernicious ideology and practice of racism and racial

We, the
people of South Africa, feel fulfilled that humanity has taken us back into its
bosom, that we, who were outlaws not so long ago, have today been given the
rare privilege to be host to the nations of the world on our own soil.

We thank
all our distinguished international guests for having come to take possession
with the people of our country of what is, after all, a common victory for
justice, for peace, for human dignity.

We trust
that you will continue to stand by us as we tackle the challenges of building
peace, prosperity, non-sexism, non-racialism and democracy.

We deeply
appreciate the role that the masses of our people and their political mass
democratic, religious, women, youth, business, traditional and other leaders
have played to bring about this conclusion. Not least among them is my Second
Deputy President, the Honourable F.W. de Klerk.

We would
also like to pay tribute to our security forces, in all their ranks, for the
distinguished role they have played in securing our first democratic elections
and the transition to democracy, from blood-thirsty forces which still refuse
to see the light.

The time
for the healing of the wounds has come.

The moment
to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.

The time
to build is upon us.

We have,
at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate
all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering,
gender and other discrimination.

succeeded to take our last steps to freedom in conditions of relative peace. We
commit ourselves to the construction of a complete, just and lasting peace.

We have
triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our
people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all
South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any
fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a
rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.

As a token
of its commitment to the renewal of our country, the new Interim Government of
National Unity will, as a matter of urgency, address the issue of amnesty for
various categories of our people who are currently serving terms of

dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest
of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we
could be free.

dreams have become reality. Freedom is their reward.

We are
both humbled and elevated by the honour and privilege that you, the people of
South Africa, have bestowed on us, as the first President of a united,
democratic, non-racial and non-sexist government.

understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom

We know it
well that none of us acting alone can achieve success.

We must
therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for
nation building, for the birth of a new world.

Let there
be justice for all.

Let there
be peace for all.

Let there
be work, bread, water and salt for all.

Let each
know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill

never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again
experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being
the skunk of the world.

freedom reign.

The sun
shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!

God bless

Thank you.