Address by Nelson Mandela at the Manifesto Launch of the African National Congress (ANC)

24 August 1995

1. A better South Africa

1.1 It is with great pride and optimism that I stand before you today. Last year, we, the people of South Africa voted for freedom. We laid a strong foundation for equality and human rights for all citizens. We turned our backs on the division and conflict of apartheid, and we set the nation irreversibly on the path of change.

1.2 The majority of South Africans chose the ANC to lead the country. They did so, because the ANC represents the hopes of the nation and has a plan to improve people's lives. They did so, because the ANC has a proud history of struggle for freedom. They did so, because of the ANC's record of non-racialism and nation-building.

1.3 Through an ANC-led national and provincial government, that nation-building has begun. We have started the process of building a better life for all. With the ANC in local government together we can take sure this happens where you live.

2. A start has been made

2.1 Since the elections of April 1994 the ANC has been working hard to introduce the changes people voted for.

2.2 The ANC-led Government of National Unity has introduced free health care for pregnant women and young children. We have introduced school feeding schemes for children in need.

2.3 We have started to bring clean water and electricity to communities who previously did not have any. We have begun finding ways of obtaining land for rural communities. At last our country has a single education system. We are phasing in free education and our children are back in their classrooms.

2.4 Furthermore, our economy has been put on a sound footing. For the first time in years there is real economic growth.

2.5 We are proud of our achievements. But the ANC is honest enough to acknowledge that more could have been done. The local government elections give us the chance to put this right.

3. Democracy where we live

3.1 Last year's elections brought democratic government to the nation and the provinces. By voting in the November elections, every local community will get a voice in government. At last communities will have the power to work with the ANC-led national government to make the RDP work for them.

3.2 The old local councils were divided along apartheid lines. They only served the interests of a few. But our communities fought the apartheid councils and in so doing laid the basis for the coming elections. Now, together, we can break down the barriers that have kept us apart so long. We can build truly South African communities in the cities, towns and villages.

3.3 Through democratic local councils we can build a better life for our families and our communities, where we live.

4. You can rely on the ANC

4.1 The councilors you elect in the local government elections will become the main agents of change in your communities. When you choose your candidates, they should be people you can rely on.

4.2 They must be people who understand your problems, care about your future, and know how to listen.

4.3 ANC candidates are people from your area, who have always worked for a better life for the people in your community. As ANC councilors, they will make sure that the resources of local government are used for the benefit of all. They will report back to you and be answerable to you.

4.4 The ANC recognises that communities are ready to take control over their own lives, and share with government, the responsibility for bringing about change and managing their daily lives. ANC councilors will be your partners in change.

4.5 The spirit of Masakhane has been welcomed far and wide because we all want to do something to improve our lives. Don't waste your vote on those with no clear plans for the future.

4.6 Community involvement is the key to ensuring secure, stable and orderly communities. Together, we will tackle the poverty, crime and disease that have undermined our community values and brought fear and insecurity into all our lives. With ANC-led councils you can bring new strength and determination to solve these problems.

4.7 In rural areas the ANC will work to ensure that democratic local government deals with the basic needs of all our people. This will be done with sensitivity for local traditions and structures.

5. Let's make it happen

5.1 Last year you voted for a better life for all South Africans. The ANC now comes to you in these local government elections, knowing that we must continue to work with you and carry out your wishes.

5.2 The plans that we have started to implement come from the people. Together we have started to change South Africa for the better. Together, we can make these plans succeed, we can build a better life where we live.

5.3 Let us come together as communities to fight crime. Let us come together to identify our urgent needs and make proposals to government. Together, we have the power to make the RDP a resounding success. Together we can build a better life.

Together we can make it happen where we live.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation