Address by President Nelson Mandela at the coronation of King Letsie III of Lesotho, Maseru

31 October 1997

Your Majesty;
Royal Highnesses;
Heads of State;
Honourable Ministers;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen,

May we, on behalf of all the member countries of the Southern African Development Community extend congratulations to His Royal Majesty and the Royal Family of Lesotho on the coronation of King Letsie III.

This is a momentous occasion for the Kingdom of Lesotho and indeed for the entire region; and we are greatly honoured to share this moment in the beautiful Mountain Kingdom.

The Royal House of Lesotho has contributed greatly to the spirit of freedom and justice that now reigns in Southern Africa. With the first act of resistance by Moshoeshoe the Great, the Basotho asserted their independence against encroaching colonial forces. During the apartheid years the Basotho bore the wrath of its powerful neighbour angered by the successes of the approaching democratic order.

Now that the countries in the region are finally rid of the cruel and crippling destablisation of the previous South African regime, we placing it firmly in its rightful place amongst the nations of the world.

Already this has been taking place. At the SADC summit in September this year, we noted with pleasure that all 12 SADC members have registered positive growth rates, some higher than 5%; that there had been much co-operation in areas such as energy, transport, communication, trade, culture, food security, agriculture and human resource development.

We are encouraged by this while realising that much more still needs to be done. The challenges facing us are different from those facing our forefathers. Hunger, starvation, illiteracy and unemployment may not seem as powerful as the enemies of the past but we know that they are equally destructive and just as painful to our people.

In order to better the lives of the people of Southern Africa we are committed to redoubling our efforts at economic integration and co-operation for development. As a region we shall vigorously defend the peace and stability that we have all worked so hard to achieve. We shall strive to find creative ways to invite investment, boost trade and advance manufacturing. While we preserve and revere our traditions we shall use our centuries-old experience to benefit our peoples; so that our peoples have access to the resources, education and technology that we need for success in the new age.

Let us join hands to ensure that as we enter the new millennium, the political rights that the twentieth century has recognised, and the independence that nations have gained, shall be translated into peace, prosperity and equity for all.

The coronation here today of the Sovereign from an old Royal House of our region reaffirms for us the continuity between heroic tradition and renewal for the sake of the betterment of our people.

We are confident that His Majesty, like his forefathers will rise to meet these challenges with wisdom. We wish His Majesty good health and strength to carry out his duties with courage and conviction.

We thank you.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website