Opening statement by Nelson Mandela, President of the African National Congress (ANC), at the meeting between the Presidents of the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Bonaero Park

23 June 1993

1. We are meeting against a background of several meetings between our respective organisations. It is easy for us to cover old ground and engage in finger pointing.

The fact of the matter is that on both sides mistakes have been committed. Both parties have questioned each other's bona fides. Both have engaged in recrimination and vilification. Supporters and members on both sides have succumbed to the atmosphere of hostility.

Today all South Africa and the international community looks to us. The question is whether we are going to look to the future or whether we are to remain prisoners of the past.

We cannot miss this moment to change the direction of our relations in the interest of peace and democracy. I would like the two of us to stand above the hurly burly of daily events, to stand even above our party political interests and to attend to the business of this meeting on the basis of overriding national interests. These interests demand that the carnage is stopped, that a speedy transition to democracy is effected and that peace becomes an enduring condition.

Our two organisations have a long history of political rivalry. Yet both organisations, like all other political organisations, have a right to exist and we must work together to take our country to democracy and peace.

It is imperative that South Africa's transition from the present apartheid order to a non-racial, non-sexist democracy be arrived at speedily through the Multi-Party process.

3. Violence orchestrated by apartheid has been implanted in our society. The violence is now showing all the potential of becoming endemic in our country. It is also one of the most serious impediments to democratic transformation.

4. At the same time any delay or failure to arrive at a binding negotiated political settlement increases the dangers inherent in the violence raging in our country.

5. It is therefore necessary that the IFP and the ANC:

5.1 Reaffirm their commitment to finding a speedy negotiated settlement through the Multi-Party Process; and

5.2 Jointly and severally commit themselves to taking all possible steps to curb and eliminate violence.

6. The realisation of these two objectives requires that peace and democracy becomes the property of the people. For this to happen it is vital that both organisations actively promote a democratic culture based on freedom of association, assembly and other basic human rights.

7. In particular, urgent measures need to be undertaken to ensure free political activity in every part of South Africa. This involves inter alia:

7.1 The recognition by our members and supporters of the right of all individuals to hold and express their own views and belong to any party of their choice, without intimidation and violence, while at the same time eschewing mutual vilification;

7.2 Ensuring that where either of our organisations is in authority, whether as a consequence of running the administration or by strength of support, we shall ensure that both our organisations as well as other political organisations are allowed to canvass their views and that they are afforded the necessary facilities to do so. This shall apply to both urban and rural areas, including traditional settlements under the control of the traditional leaders of our people.

7.3 Both organisations recognise the right of people to assembly and give expression to their grievances or support, provided that such activities are in keeping with the letter and spirit of the National peace Accord, including in particular, that,

7.3.1 participation in such manifestation is on a voluntary basis;

7.3.2 given the atmosphere in the country today, traditional and cultural weapons are carried only on bona fide cultural occasions and that the public display of weapons on all other occasions is prevented;

7.3.3 the killings must be stopped;

7.3.4 the destruction of property is avoided.

8. In September 1991 we together with many other organisations signed the historic National Peace Accord. Despite its shortcomings the National Peace Accord remains the brightest beacon for peace in our land. No-one can say how many more killings would have occurred had we not given birth to this instrument. Experience since then has shown that the Peace Accord process and its structures need to be strengthened and made more effective. Proposals to this end are already being developed. Let us agree to convene a meeting of the signatories to the National Peace Accord without any further delay to ratify these proposals.

9. Recognising that the problem of violence and legitimate law enforcement should also be addressed in the context of the unfolding transition, we must commit ourselves to contribute constructively to multi-lateral negotiations on multi-party control of all armed formations and law enforcement agencies which would facilitate and lead to the creation of impartial, legitimate and effective security forces.

10. Recognising that the two organisations on the one hand share the common objective of removing the scourge of apartheid and its consequences, while, on the other hand they are distinct, independent and rival political organisations, it is necessary that such rivalry is expressed within the framework of free and peaceful political activity. This is only possible if we recognise the legitimate right of each of our organisations to exist and to participate in the democratic process.

11. At the same time in order to obviate some of the problems that beset relations between the two organisations after previous bi-lateral meetings, we should agree to strengthen and expedite the work of the joint liaison structures between our organisation. Such joint mechanisms should include measures aimed at monitoring progress in the implementation of programs agreed upon as well as dealing with such violations as may occur.

12. In order to ensure that relations among our organisations find expression among the people, we should undertake to initiate joint public activities among our structures at all levels in violence-torn areas. This should include joint mass rallies and meetings by local as well as regional structures and joint public appearance by the two presidents in such areas.

13. We should agree to immediately set up the necessary structures to ensure regular contact and communication between our negotiating teams to seek areas of commonality and clarify issues on which we may differ.

14. I hope that in my presentation I have not taken a sectarian approach and presented my organisation as angels and other organisations as sinners. When we meet to solve problems, we should avoid all recriminations. I would like to tell the world something constructive today. I believe that it is necessary that when we consider our problems I look into my own weaknesses as much as I look into yours. This is the approach we need to take.

It is not correct to portray the massacres in Natal and Transvaal as clashes between the IFP and the ANC. Some massacres could never have been committed by an African. They are the work of a Third Force. The fact that the Goldstone Commission has so far not found evidence of its existence is neither here nor there. This is not a new problem. South Africa kept on denying military involvement in Angola. It was only when the bodies of South African soldiers were returned to South Africa and when Hunter produced documents of the extent of SADF involvement that they admitted their presence there.

It is crucial that we work to end the violence and expose those who are responsible. I hope that at the end of this meeting we will be able to say that we have buried the past. We must look to the present and to the future. Both locally and internationally, I would like us to promote a new image of our relationship.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation