Message by President Nelson Mandela on launch of Flagship Programme for Unemployed Women with Children under 5 years, read by North West Premier Popo Molefe, Mathateng

17 October 1996

Our society is characterized by great socioeconomic imbalances. For the majority of our people, conditions are difficult to the extreme. For many, especially rural women, human degradation and the worst forms of poverty is their lot. On their shoulders fall addi- tional burdens to care for children, the elderly and the disabled.

It is unacceptable, nor is it consistent with our commitment to a democratic society, to have place-names that emphasise the extreme circumstances under which they are forced to live.

One dares to hope that the name Mathateng does not reflect a despondency or apathy with life itself. We hope that it is not only a misnomer, but that the residents here, take pride in themselves understand the enormity of the challenge facing them and have the hope to face life with equanimity.

The programme we are launching here in Mathateng is an acknowledgement of how far we have to go in our national vision of reconstruction. It is also and indication of a national commitment to address the difficulties that are faced by our people.

It is part of the pledge that we have taken together with our people to mobilise our human and material resources towards the building of a better life under a democratically elected government.

Although we have committed ourselves to a broad programme of renewal and development we are aware, that none of our intentions to build a better country are capable of attainment unless at the same time we assist our people with the freedom to chart their own destiny.

With this programme we enjoin all our people, who otherwise did not have a chance to develop themselves in the past, to embrace the freedoms that form the centrepiece of human dignity. Together with them, we develop survival skills and the capacity to look ahead with hope and to grapple with difficult conditions with fortitude and confidence.

Two and half Years ago we mobilised our national resources to make life easier for pregnant women and children under six years of age. We implemented the Primary School Nutrition Programme to re- affirm our commitment to develop our human resources. These measures formed a launching pad for our programme to build a healthier nation.

Today's programme, aimed at mothers of children under five years of age, is part of that offensive to engage our people in develop- ment. We are affirming the primacy of the family and investing in the inherent ability of women to care for themselves and the family.

We are saying that if the slogan of the new society we are striving to build is "never again", then "never again" should be the slogan of every family, because anyway, the family unit is the building block of that new society.

The name Mathateng is a challenge that we the members of our new society are prepared to face head-on, with the resolve to ensure that, never again, shall the name of a place denote the difficult conditions of life.

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all women and mothers to grapple with the challenge to ensure that Mathateng becomes a place of better conditions. I would like to encourage them to arm themselves with these new skills so that they become the pioneers that bring opportunity to Mathateng.

Issued by: North West Communication Service


Source: South African Government Information Website