Address by President Nelson Mandela in the aftermath of the Kwazulu-Natal local government election

6 July 1996

Ladies and Gentlemen;
Comrades and Friends.

(Translated from Zulu)

If I was a praise poet, today I would be singing praises to you, the people of KwaZulu-Natal. It is with great joy that I stand before you. Around the country our people are proud of the great feat you have pulled in this province last week. On the 26th of June the people of KwaZulu-Natal voted overwhelmingly for peace, democracy and development.

You came out in your numbers to vote because you understand that strong democratic local government will give communities the power to make reconstruction and development happen where you live. You understand that democratic local government can move this province forward to peace and prosperity. You came out in your numbers to vote because you know that the people must govern.

The whole country was with you on June 26. And from a province fraught with violence and serious underdevelopment, you have emerged as a guiding light; you have strengthened our confidence that the era of peace has arrived for KwaZulu/Natal. You have shown that this province shall not be left behind.

All the people of KwaZulu/Natal, and those from other parts of the country, who have made a contribution to the free and fair elections must share in the glory of what is an enormous victory for democracy, a victory for South Africa. I commend all political parties which took part in the elections; and for making peace one of their central messages.

I would like to thank in particular members of the South African Police Service, the National Defence Force and intelligence organs. Through your conduct, discipline and sacrifice in securing the elections, you have, once more, done much to strengthen the legitimacy of your chosen profession in the eyes of the community.

I thank all the people of KwaZulu-Natal for the leadership that you are giving to all political parties. You have spoken loudly and clearly for peace, for development, for a better life.

All political parties must ensure that the message of peace was not simply an election campaign strategy. It must become an integral part of the programmes of all parties; it must be the focus of all newly elected councillors.

I congratulate in particular the African National Congress for the exceptional performance especially in the important urban industrial centres. These areas will be critical to ensure growth and development in both urban and rural areas, in order to improve the lives of especially the poorest of the poor.

Long life the Provincial, Regional and Branch leaders! Long life the organisers, amadelakufa! Long live the people's candidates!

(Translated from Zulu)

Although the ANC is strong in those areas where the main financial decisions will be taken, we shall not be arrogant. We will co-operate with the Provincial Government. Our most important duty is not to engage in party political point scoring, but to work to build a better life for all the people of KwaZulu-Natal. And there will be no discrimination between urban and rural areas.

I call on all councillors - regardless of the political parties that they represent - to work hard together in the various councils, and especially with all the people who voted for them, to ensure that the message of peace and development becomes inscribed in the consciousness and actions of all in KwaZulu-Natal.

June the 26th was the day 41 years ago when the Freedom Charter was adopted by the Congress of the People at Kliptown. Now the 26th of June will also go down in the history of the liberation struggle as the day that the people of KwaZulu-Natal made their mark for peace and development; the day on which you followed in the footsteps of Cetshwayo, Bhambatha, Mafukuzela Dube, Mahatma Ghandi, Monty Naicker, Albert Luthuli, Moses Mabhida, Johnny Makhathini and Harry Gwala.

The election results are of such a nature that in some areas alliances will have to be formed in order to ensure proper governance. The ANC, although we have many differences with the IFP and also with the Minority Front, will try to find ways to co-operate with these parties because their supporters come primarily from those communities who have been so brutally oppressed by the previous apartheid regime. The ANC's constituency and theirs are those who were denied opportunities, the poor, the landless and illiterate. This fact should direct us to have similar perspectives and goals, to help these communities to catch up.

We offer a hand of peace and co-operation to the IFP and Minority Front, for us to work together to improve the lives of the disadvantaged. We extend a hand of peace and co-operation to the Democratic Party and the National Party for us to join hands to build this province into a home of our dreams. All of us - Afrikaans, Indians, Coloureds and Whites - have a central role to play.

In some areas the election results are being contested. Legitimate cases must of course go ahead. However, we must accept results where elections have been substantially free and fair, and work together to make this province the giant that it ought to be. There is no time for squabbling in those areas where the elections have gone well. There is no time for petty politicking. The people of this province have spoken and they want change.

We know that in many areas, especially the villages, many things made it difficult for people to express their wishes freely. But this problem will be solved steadily and surely, as all of us - the parties, the religious bodies, individual citizens and the security forces - join hands to eliminate violence. But for peace and free political activity to succeed, they must live int he hearts of the people. We must co-operate with the security forces to root out the criminals.

What is clear from this election is that no political party can claim to be representative of any ethnic group. I sincerely hope that we can now once and for all bury the myth that South Africans of Zulu extraction are under the spell of an ethnic party. We are one South African nation; and the politics of narrow ethnic mobilisation is on the way out.

However, support for political parties is still divided in terms of rural and urban areas. The newly elected local authorities must ensure that party political divisions do not undermine either the rural or urban people of this province. KwaZulu-Natal must be united in a common vision of development that benefits all the citizens of this province.

(Translated from Zulu)

The great kings and leaders of yesterday were an inspiration to our people. And now you, their noble descendants are becoming an inspiration to the whole country. I thank all the people of KwaZulu/Natal for your discipline, commitment to peace and contribution to nation-building. You have made the country stand tall and proud before the whole world. This is indeed a momentous occasion. If I was a praise poet, I would surely be singing praises to you today.

Thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation