Closing address by President Nelson Mandela at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government Summit

28 August 1995

Mr Chairman;
Your Excellencies;

We have come to the end of the 15th anniversary Summit of SADC.

Allow me to reiterate what I said this morning: that for us it is not only the content of the deliberations we have had, which gives this Summit its significance. We are especially moved by the fact that our Government and our people are hosts to this landmark-summit of SADC.

History and nature itself rarely achieve auspicious coincidences. And this is one of them: that as SADC comes of age in its bristling youth, South Africa has not only taken her rightful place; but we have also been given the honour to host this Summit.

There is no doubt that this has been one of the most significant SADC meetings ever. Our collective sacrifices over the years have made this possible. The people of Southern Africa can at last, like free human beings elsewhere, concentrate on the fundamental questions of our age: development, prosperity, good health, education and other services that will better their lives.

And the seriousness of the tasks that face us as leaders was captured succinctly by no less than the youths who spoke from the heart this morning. We own it to them, and we owe it to the mothers of our region, to ensure that we move from the decisions that we have taken to actual practical implementation. We owe it to all the peoples of the sub-continent to ensure that they see in us, not merely good leaders waxing lyrical about development; but as the front commanders in the blast furnaces of labour, productive investments and visible change.

Our deliberations throughout this discussion have confirmed seriousness of intent on the part of all of us. And we will need to ensure that this spirit infuses all of our people: especially the business-persons and professionals, the workers and rural masses on whom the implementation of most of our decisions depends. The ceremony this morning vividly captured the basic truth that, in the end, success of our project depends on the collective effort of all Southern Africa's people. We must make SADC a glowing flame in their hearts.

The potential to emulate successful economies in other regions of the world is there. We need to grab it with both hands. We need to make it a living reality within the context of achieving peace, democracy and justice throughout the region.

I am raising all these matters precisely because I feel quite strongly that it is given to our generation of leaders to continue with fresh momentum the journey along the road to a bright future for our region; a journey that the founders blazed with such fortitude during difficult times.

And as hosts, we are moved by the confidence you have displayed in us. We wish to pledge that we shall, as a government and as a nation, play our part in making our Development Community a success, an example for the rest of the continent and further afield.

There might be issues on which we have not been able to reach complete consensus. They all fade into insignificance compared to the great strides we have made. In fact they are opportunities for us to advance further, much faster and with confidence in our collective success.

As you prepare to depart tomorrow, please be assured of the esteem with which we hold all of you. We thank you once again for your decision to hold this Summit in our country. We thank the secretariat and other organisers who have made this Summit a resounding success.

I thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation