Address by President Nelson Mandela at the Durban Point Easter Festival

15 April 1995

I am truly happy to share this day with you and to be part of the Durban Point Easter Festival.

This wonderful festival celebrates the variety of our vibrant cultures; enterprise and achievement; and the joy of leisure with friends and family. By bringing together so many people from the whole of this great city and further afield, it gives concrete expression to the unity of our people. Its focus on youth speaks to us of the future and the great challenges which face us.

This is also a time of year which leads us to rededicate ourselves to striving for peace and harmony. It celebrates the warmth and values of family life. It makes us think of sacrifice, redemption of past suffering and the promise of a better life.

Such a festival, at this time of year, is therefore rich in the vision which unites us as a nation.

In less than two weeks' time, one year will have passed since the elections which took us across the divide from a past of conflict and division to the possibility of peace and stability. We can justly be proud of what has been achieved in that short space of time.

South Africans have united across political and social divides to an extent far beyond the wildest expectations anyone may have had a year ago. Our Government of National Unity rests on a solid foundation of agreement amongst political leaders and their parties. But national unity rests on more than this: we are bound together y an emerging active partnership of all sectors of society - workers and business, students and teachers, police and communities and many others.

In expressing pride of our progress, we do not for one minute forget how much is still to be done.

There have, of course, been problems. But South African leaders are capable of resolving their problems. Even in the case of issues which seem to pose the greatest difficulties, such as that of international mediation, I am confident that solutions will be found which are satisfactory to all those concerned. The meeting which I had two days ago with the leaders of the National Party and the Inkatha Freedom Party demonstrates that fact.

We do know, too, that this Province of KwaZulu-Natal has suffered fearfully from the effects of violence. Those who live here have the right, like all other South Africans, to feel safe and secure in their homes, at their work, and in public. The government is committed without reservation to ensuring that you can enjoy that basic right. For that reason the province was amongst those recently identified for special attention by the security forces, working together with communities, to deal effectively with political violence and crime.

Stability and security are essential for systematic progress in raising the living standards of especially the poor.

Reconstruction and Development are aimed at changing our society so that we can deal with the inheritance of apartheid and bring a better life for all. We have been able to make a start, with such things as: the school-feeding scheme; free health care for young children and pregnant mothers; bringing water to rural communities; and a start to land reform. We have used the time since the election to draw up plans for much more and we are starting to implement them.

But if we are to move beyond these first steps, certain things are absolutely necessary. The government cannot achieve these plans on its own. It needs your help. It needs the help of everyone. It needs everyone to take responsibility for helping to build our country and to work together in the spirit of Masakhane.

For example, achieving security and stability needs active community support for the police.

To build our economy and to make all our institutions representative of our society, we need a youth that is dedicated to learning.

A programme for building millions of houses and providing services like electricity, water and sanitation can only be achieved if those who receive these services pay for them.

But right now there is one particular task which must be urgently done.

Our democracy is only half-built. The local government elections on November will complete the task by giving communities local authorities of your choice.

Local councils will be the means by which communities will tell government of their needs and how best to meet them. They will decide how resources are used in local projects.

But, as you all know, you can only vote if you get your name on the voters' roll by registering. If you don't register, you are robbing yourself, your children and future generations of the opportunities for which so much has been sacrificed over so many years.

Time is running out. The last day for registration is just two weeks away. Each one of you must be an organiser for democracy: to ensure that everyone who has the right to vote, can register and vote.

Make sure that everyone understands that to be registered for the November elections, you must fill in the form now, even if you have voted before. And you can assure people that there is no danger in providing your name and address. This is meant to secure a free and fair local election - so that only those with the right to vote in an area can do so. The government has made sure that the information on the form cannot be used for anything else.

In conclusion, therefore, I appeal to all of you: pledge yourselves today to make that extra effort to help build our country.

If you have not registered, do so without delay!

If you know of people at home, at work or in the community who have not yet registered, persuade them to do so without delay!

In this way you will be helping to make sure that the November elections are a success. You will be helping to make the RDP work.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation