Remarks by President Nelson Mandela at Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting press conference, Edinburgh - Scotland

25 October 1997

South Africa sets great store by its membership of the Commonwealth and does all it can to play an active role in the association.

South Africa has benefited extensively from the Commonwealth.

This includes the vital Commonwealth contribution to our transition to democracy even before we were members.

Since then the programme of Technical Assistance to the Consolidation of Democracy has targeted assistance towards public service reform; justice and safety and security; gender equality; and the strengthening of democratic structures, such as the Independent Electoral Commission; Human Rights Commission; Gender Commission and the office of the Public Protector.

This transitional support will become regular support through the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation.

More broadly the Commonwealth is assuming increasing importance as a multilateral vehicle for promoting development and democracy, and for combating poverty. The issues before this conference underline that fact.

One of the priorities the world faces is to ensure that the evolution of the world trading system and global economic growth should be translated into development, and that a more equitable distribution of its benefits should be secured.

This is the perspective that has guided South Africa's input, both in preparatory work and during the conference. into the formulation of the Economic Declaration that has engaged the first part of this meeting.

The fact that twelve members of SADC are also members of the Commonwealth reinforces its value as an instrument for development in the Southern African region.

South Africa welcomes the summit's focus on economic matters which is particularly relevant at this time. There has just been a highly successful meeting of the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, in which our Minister of Finance participated as did Cyril Ramaphosa. Tangible progress was made there in furthering public and private sector partnership in pursuit of growth and development, and in formulating a positive approach.

It is too early to talk specifically about the Economic Declaration which is still the subject of discussions in which South Africa is making its input in terms of our perspective on these matters.

Such are the reasons for our being a member of the Commonwealth and for being here at the Heads of Government Meeting.

Issued by the Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website