Statement by Nelson Mandela at the opening of the ANC/NP Government Summit announcing the Record of Understand

26 September 1992

Mr State President, FW de Klerk, and members of your delegation;
Members of the delegation of the African National Congress;
Ladies and gentlemen.

Allow me to express my appreciation that we have finally been able to meet. At the very least, the simple act of our coming together at this level is bound to send a signal of hope among all South Africans. We are duty-bound not to disappoint them.

I would like to congratulate Secretary-General Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister Roelf Meyer and their assistants for their outstanding work in preparation for the Summit. The ultimate accolade, however, goes to the people of South Africa who, in their various ways, have ensured that the issues of peace and democracy remain high on the political agenda.

There were moments when the temptation to despair seemed most attractive. Indeed, the issues would not have been critical, and the urgency to address them not acute, if difficulties did not arise on the way.

Now we have assembled - representatives of the ANC and the government - to seek practical solutions to the most urgent questions facing our country. I take this opportunity to welcome back to our midst the political prisoners who have just been released, and hope that the others will join us soon. This important step, and practical measures to address violence, will help create the climate so necessary for substantive negotiations to resume.

We have come here in the hope that by the time this Summit ends, a firm basis will have been laid for the resumption of negotiations.

This is what all our people want. This is what our economy needs. This is what our country yearns for.

The African National Congress has not come here to claim victories. We have come to earnestly tackle the problems facing our country. We must emerge with a firm resolve to clear the path to a new and democratic order. South Africa must be the winner.

We believe that if negotiations have to succeed, all parties and organisations should be able to strengthen themselves. As difficult as it is, it would be a grave mistake for any organisation to behave in negotiations blinded by sectarian interests.

Certainly, the National Party and the African National Congress are products of specific backgrounds. We must try to regulate the emotions arising from these backgrounds in the interest of our common future.

We have to be pro-active in the face of the current situation and dispassionately address the objective realities of the day.

Recently we have had a spate of massacres like Boipatong and Bisho. We have been blaming each other for these events. It is our duty to ensure that an Interim Government of National Unity is brought about speedily. This will go a long way in addressing many of these problems. I hope that when next we meet, we will be able to agree on dates for elections for a Constituent Assembly and the installation of an Interim Government.

Our economy has been badly damaged. Starvation, lack of jobs, the education crisis, poor services and crime infect our society like the plague. The longer these problems remain unsolved, the more they feed upon themselves to drag the country further down the precipice. And the longer the transition to democracy takes, the more are solutions to these problems postponed.

But to reach that stage, we have to attend to violence and political intolerance with a new determination. All members of our society - including those in the so-called homelands - must enjoy freedom of speech and association. They deserve, without exception, the right to life.

By tackling with serious intent the matters on the Summit's agenda we shall strengthen the National Peace Accord and contribute immensely to national reconciliation.

This Summit has the potential to lay a firm basis for speedy movement towards democracy. The adoption of a constitution to which all South Africans pay allegiance and a government truly representative of all the people are the most important milestones in this process.

My delegation and I will do all in our power to ensure that the Summit succeeds. There is no alternative for South Africa.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation