Address by Nelson Mandela on the occasion of the New Nation "Man of the Year" Award Ceremony, Johannesburg

June 1993

Mr Chairman
Minister Roelf Meyer
Professor Mohale Mahanyele
Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa - Secretary General of the ANC
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

I feel greatly honoured to have been invited to present a message on this first annual “Man of the Year” award, in recognition of South Africans who are deemed to have made a great contribution towards the upliftment and creation of better life for all our people.

This occasion is indeed very special, because it also marks the launch of the New Nation’s "Business Man of the Year" award.

The African National Congress considers it very significant that the New Nation has chosen to honour individuals for their contribution to the negotiation process. The honour bestowed on minister Roelf Meyer and comrade Cyril Ramaphosa is actually a recognition of the efforts by the democratic forces led by the ANC, who have taken the initiative to ensure that the very process of negotiations was started in this country.

It is the democratic forces that have mobilised and continue to mobilise all shades of political opinion, including those that fear democracy, towards speeding the negotiation process swiftly forward. We wish to take this opportunity to reiterate our continued commitment to an uninterrupted march to democracy and social justice in this country.

The ANC wishes to add its voice in congratulating minister Roelf Meyer and comrade Ramaphosa in their efforts to get the negotiation process to move forward. They have in their work demonstrated the desire of millions of South Africans for a speedy delivery of democracy in this country. We hope that all formations representing different political persuations, business, churches, and other institutions of civil society, will give them and the negotiation process their full support. It is very significant that a black and white person jointly share this honour tonight. We hope this will signal a good lesson for all South Africans to follow.

Professor Mohale Mahanyele - who today is receiving the New Nation "Businessman of the Year" award, is one of those within the business community, who has put the issue of black economic empowerment very forcefully on the agenda in this country. The presentation of this award tonight is recognition of his tireless efforts in the struggle to ensure that the democratisation process will be incomplete if it did not address both political, social and the economic aspects of our people's lives. Indeed it remains true today that we need to move fast with negotiations, so that we can create conditions where we can begin to make the economic empowerment of the historically oppressed a reality.

It is with this in mind that we note with appreciation the great strides made by the professor in the field of black economic empowerment, especially as this has been against many odds facing black in this country.

Mr Chairman

In addressing current political developments, we wish to say that the ANC is satisfied that sufficient progress is being made in negotiations. However we wish to see the process accelerated, as the majority of South Africans continue to be very impatient with the process thus far. Our people want to see concrete and tangible results being delivered by the negotiations. The ANC remains confident that the first democratic elections will be held within the envisaged period, that is before the end of April 1994.

Many problems which have a potential to derail the negotiation process remain to be addressed. The question of violence, the inability of leaders to accept the necessity for consultation when addressing major national questions and many other problems continue to exist. We hope that experiences like the education crisis, the use of force by the state in dealing with problems and the unilateral decision made with regard to the final selection of the SABC board will be avoided in future.

We are entering a period where the Transitional Executive Council and its sub-committees on the media, elections and joint control of the armed and security forces will be created. We do not want to experience a situation where agreements reached in broader negotiations are also subjected to individual endorsement.

On this note allow me Mr Chairman to once more congratulate the recipients of the awards and the New Nation for having introduced these honors. We do hope that this will encourage and inspire many more South Africans to strengthen their contributions in pursuance of peace and democracy for all in our country.

Thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation