Address by Nelson Mandela to the rally at KwaMthethwa

21 May 1995

Nkosi Nyambose
Bantu bakwaMthethwa
Members of the Provincial Legislature
Distinguished Guests
Comrades and Friends

I would like to thank the organisers of this meeting for having invited me to join you this afternoon. The people of this area are a symbol of hope and courage. Despite all the odds loaded against you, you have emerged with your heads held high and are defiantly building a bright future with the meagre resources at your disposal.

The Siyaqhubeka Project that you have established is a manifestation of your desire to transform your area. I was heartened to see the school you are building relying on your own sweat and blood. You have surpassed all our expectations. I am sure that your heroic ancestor, King Dingiswayo, must be smiling in his grave because this is exactly what he would have done if he was with us today.

Your project is an example of exactly what we mean by people-centred development. Let me assure you that your efforts will not be in vain. The policy of the Government is that communities which initiate their own projects will receive a positive response from government. The RDP section of my office will ensure that they experience no blockages.

In this regard I promise you that I shall personally raise the issue of your school building project with Minister Jay Naidoo's office. You refused to let your kids walk thirty kilometres to school. The Government will not let you down.

Your development is primarily your responsibility. You know what your needs are and only you can determine a proper strategy. Through an RDP forum you can discuss your needs and work out ways of co-operating with government and business.

The success of our Reconstruction and Development Programme depends on the local authorities we shall elect in November. These authorities will raise your problems with the provincial and then the national government. They will forward your proposals and also receive funds and allocate them.

That is why it is important that you put in place people who have a track record of community service - people you know, people you trust, and people you have confidence in. For those who want to ensure the development of their localities, the participation in the elections is a must. No community member should shy away from this responsibility.

But in order to vote, you must first register before June 5. This is your crucial opportunity to lay a firm foundation for the transformation of your community. A competent local authority is a key to a better life for all.

Some people say that the setting up of democratic local authorities will undermine and eventually do away with the institution of traditional leaders. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The position of the government and our constitution is that amakhosi are part of our everyday lives and part of our being. They are essential for the day-to-day running of the affairs of people in rural areas. To abolish them is like amputating a limb. That is not the intention of our government and certainly not the intention of the ANC. We want elected local government representatives to work with amakhosi to bring a better life to rural communities.

Parliament will soon look at legislation on the salaries of all amakhosi in the country. This is to establish a uniform standard among our traditional leaders and to protect the institution from being abused for political ends.


The province of KwaZulu-Natal is under the dark cloud of a reign of fear and destruction perpetrated by criminals who want to return us to the past. Earlier today I was hosted by Inkosi Xolo of Port Shepstone whose people have not known peace for a long time: a people that is rapidly becoming a community of refugees.

Yesterday in Mandeni I participated in a mass funeral of nine compatriots who were murdered in cold blood almost two weeks ago. Early this month a reign of terror was unleashed against the people of Umlazi in Durban for having hosted the main Cosatu May Day rally.

These acts of thuggery have intensified since some senior politicians called on their followers in this province to rise and resist the central government.

I have repeatedly said that we shall never allow our government to be held to ransom. I have also said that I am even more concerned with these threats against the stability of the government since they come from the ruling party of this province. Provincial government receives direct funding for the development of KwaZulu-Natal from central government. How can they be trusted with tax-payers money - your money - when their objective is to undermine central Government?

I want to warn again: Should they dare abuse government funds to finance the agenda to "rise and resist" central government, I will not hesitate to stop the funding and find alternative channels of servicing the people of this province. I shall not fold my hands when tax payers' money is abused for narrow party political ends.

The ANC has, on countless occasions, emphasised its commitment to the issue of international mediation. We didn't enter into that agreement for convenience sake. But we believe that terms of reference must first be mutually agreed upon.

We must also consider the changes that have since taken place. His Majesty King Zwelithini now says he believes that all matters relating to His Kingdom can be resolved internally. That position cannot be disregarded. Furthermore, the provincial legislature still has to write the provincial constitution which will address all issues related to the Zulu Kingdom.

The ANC is ready to meet any interested party, including the IFP on constitutional matters. But we don't believe that the involvement of foreigners at this stage will take us any closer to an agreement. Our view is that all parties are capable of representing their own viewpoints.

The problem of violence in this Province has reached disturbing proportions. It can no longer be handled by normal policing methods alone. We have thus started a Community Safety Plan to deploy additional security personnel in several flash-points across the country.

However, the success of this Plan lies in your hands. The co-operation you give to the security forces will determine the outcome. The government is ready to carry out its duty of protecting human lives. We don't need anyone's permission to root out criminals.

In conclusion, I want to say to Nkosi Nyambose: Once again, thank you for having made this occasion possible. You have taught us a great deal with your actions during the few hours we have spent with you. The memory of this short visit will remain with me for a long time to come.

I thank you all.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation