New Year message by President Nelson Mandela for 1995

30 December 1994

Fellow Citizens.

I am greatly honoured to address you at the end of a remarkable year in the history of our nation and on the eve of a new year that is so full of hope.

1994 will go down in history as an epoch-making year for the South African people, and indeed for humanity as a whole. We are at the close of a year which saw the defeat of the apartheid system, against which the entire world was united.

As a nation we can be thankful for what was achieved and proud of the way in which we conducted ourselves.

Significant progress has been made in the first six months of the Government of National Unity. The inauguration of democracy stands out as a singular attainment. No longer do our people fear the institutions of power. We have a government that is acceptable to the majority of South Africans. Transparency and accountability have become norms in our new life.

A national consensus has been forged on the policy to bring a better life to all South Africans. All parties in the Government of National Unity are united behind the Reconstruction and Development Programme. Initial steps to implement this plan have been taken in the form of the Presidential projects, and preparations have been made for the early start of many more projects.

A legislative programme to ease the way to institutional change is well under way. Land reform has begun in earnest. In addition to the resettlement of people who were forcibly removed, a legislative framework has been set up to address land disputes arising from apartheid, in the form of the Land Claims Commission and the Land Claims Court.

The Constitutional Court and other measures to promote human rights have been introduced.

These achievements are a tribute to the glorious people we are. As we enter this New Year I wish to congratulate all South Africans on their selfless efforts to make this possible, as individuals and as a nation.

With this solid foundation, 1995 can be a year of transformation if we join hands to make it so. What we have gained in the past year must be consolidated. but more than that, a duty rests on the shoulders of all South Africans to strive to make this another year of which we can be proud.

Every South African should work to make the local government elections a success. These elections will be a conclusion of the journey towards democracy which we started on 27 April.

Our people should be mobilised for development and reconstruction. In 1995 the Government of National Unity will adopt fiscal policies marking a departure from the days of apartheid. Uplifting living conditions will be a priority.

One of the most urgent concerns of all South Africans in the coming year should be the education of our children. Despite a slight improvement in the overall pass rate, the matriculation results for 1994 remain disappointing. Nevertheless, we should provide ourselves on the good start we have made in establishing a culture of learning and teaching in our schools.

I take this opportunity to urge all students to go back to school and improve on the work of the past year. Those who have not make it should be assured of the support of the Government of national Unity and community structures.

I appeal to all organisations in the field of education to make 1995 incident free. The encouraging start we made in 1994 needs to be consummated by a year in which our youth can begin to enjoy the fruits of learning in a democratic society.

The significant changes we envisage can only be brought about in an atmosphere of peace and stability. The momentum for peace must be sustained and even strengthened. While there has been relative calm since the establishment of the Government of National Unity, the events in Natal and the taxi violence continue to blemish the nation's proud record. Let us join to end this scourge in 1995. Let us all be soldiers of peace.

As we enter the New Year, let every South African join the march against crime. The steps that the Government of National Unity is taking to improve living conditions should be reinforced by a population mobilised against criminal activity. Let every South African refuse sanctuary to transgressors of the law.

I wish to congratulate our men and women in uniform on their sterling work to defend our young democracy. Many have to work under extremely difficult and even appalling conditions. Let them be assured of the faith which the President has in them and the determination of the Government of National Unity to improve their working conditions in the coming year.

Let 1995 be a year in which the good relationship between every citizen and our police service is further improved. A pleasant beginning has been made.

On my own behalf, I thank you for the honour you have bestowed on me by electing me to preside over these momentous changes.

I wish you all a prosperous and peaceful New Year.

God Bless You.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation