Address by President Nelson Mandela to the National Assembly of Angola, Luanda - Angola

29 April 1998

President of the National Assembly;
Your Excellency, President Jose dos Santos;
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I come to this chamber today in all humility, conscious that I am standing before the elected representatives of a people for whom our freedom was as precious as their own.

Angola's solidarity with South Africans struggling for their liberation was of heroic proportions.

Before you own freedom was secure, and within the reach of our ruthless enemy, you dared to act upon the principle that freedom in Southern Africa was indivisible. Led by the founder of liberated Angola, that great African patriot and internationalist, Agostinho Neto, you insisted that all of Africa's children must be freed from bondage.

Between brothers and sisters; friends and comrades, thanks are out of place.

But knowing that our victory was unthinkable without your support, we stand in awe at the enormous sacrifices you made.

And knowing what your support for us has cost you, we are deeply moved to be invited to address the National Assembly of Angola at a time when the occupied seats on all sides tell us that this institution can at last proceed to make its full contribution to the democratic process endorsed by the people of Angola five years ago.

The democracy you helped us achieve has brought us the opportunity to address the basic needs of our people. With democracy have come peace and stability and the conditions for social transformation, national reconciliation and sustained economic growth in order to bring about the reconstruction and development of our country. Completing that task will take many years, and it will bring many challenges.

But we are confident that we will overcome whatever difficulties that lie ahead.

That is because South Africans have shown their determination and their capacity to work together for the greater good.

And it is because our liberation has also created the possibility of transforming the bonds of shared struggle between peoples into partnerships between nations for peace and development.

The first state visit to Angola by a South African Head of State is a milestone in that process as it affects our two countries.

Honourable members;

The full realisation of the potential for us to draw mutual benefit from our relationship with each other, hinges on the success of the Angolan peace process. South Africa unequivocally supports the peace process. We are encouraged by the recent steps that have been taken in compliance with the Lusaka Protocol. We congratulate all those involved, for putting the interest of the whole nation before all else. And we look forward eagerly to the final implementation of the provisions of the settlement in a peaceful manner.

South Africa, as a member of the United Nations, The Southern African Development Community, and the Organisation of African Unity, is ready to play whatever part it can in helping to ensure that the provisions of the Lusaka protocol are met and that Security Council resolutions are adhered to.

In particular the South African Government is doing everything to comply with the UN sanctions. Amongst other things we have tightened control and surveillance at airports that were being used to destabilise the peace for which Angola has been working.

The fact that some of these problems continue to undermine the sovereignty of Angola shows that both South Africa and Angola face the threat of forces that are unhappy with the changes that have taken place in Southern Africa. Indeed to the extent that we shed blood together in pursuit of freedom, to that extent we need to work together at all levels to defend our peoples; democracy and the sovereignty of their nation states.

We believe we do not need to state here that we respect the right of Angola, within the framework of international law, to deal with contraventions of sanctions by anyone, including South Africans, within its own territory.

Within the same context of our membership of the international community of nations an dour continental and regional organisations, we believe that our own experience of a negotiated settlement may allow us to make a humble contribution to establishing a lasting peace in Angola.

Our experience has taught us that negotiated solutions can be found to even the most difficult and apparently intractable problems, when all those involved put the good of the nation above all else, when they put long-term interests before short-term considerations.

It was through such an approach that South Africans confounded the prophets of doom who predicted nothing for our country but unending conflict. Instead South Africans from every party and across every social sector are working together. Economic stagnation has been turned to sustained growth and the foundation has been laid for even more rapid development.

In wishing the same success for Angola we are not disinterested. As the freedom of our peoples were inseparable, so too is the achievement of our goals of democracy, peace, security and prosperity.

Such is the interdependence of all nations, and in particular the nations of Southern Africa, that no one country can prosper in isolation. Peace and stability will not only bring Angola the conditions for reconstruction of Angola. They will enhance the potential for South Africa and Angola drawing mutual benefit from each other's development. Our countries face similar challenges and each of us can draw from the experience of others and complement the expertise and the comparative advantages of the other.

Our visit is therefore no merely formal one.

I am accompanied by several of my Ministers, charged with laying the foundation through discussions with their Angolan counterparts, of enhanced bilateral co-operation. We hope too use this visit to establish a general framework for co-operation in economic, scientific, technical and cultural matters.

The large business delegation accompanying me is testimony to the fact that South African companies wish to lose no opportunity to expand trade and investment ties between our two countries. Though these links have grown significantly in the years since South Africa became free, we have barely touched the enormous possibilities. We are two countries whose potential has largely been untapped because of our history of colonialism and apartheid - we can help each other to address that legacy.

Peace and unity in Angola will also take us further towards realising that vision of peace and development through co-operation which informed the founding of the Southern African Development Community. SADC stands at a critical moment in its development as it seeks to ensure that its structures are those needed to seize the opportunities that exist for it to make a powerful contribution to the development of the region and the continent as a whole.

Honourable members;

In time to come, when the history of Africa's rebirth comes to be written, Angola's epic struggle to overcome the slavery, colonialism and invasion will be a proud, if painful, chapter.

Success in your quest, under circumstances made difficult by that past, for peace and the entrenchment of democracy, will help us meet the new and even greater challenges of lifting our continent by our own efforts. It will have an impact far beyond your borders, helping to unlock the economic potential that will fuel the African Renaissance whose time has come.

As you address the issues of peace at hand, we stand with you. Peace can not fail.

We wish you all the strength and fortitude towards the conclusion of the peace process.

Your victory will be a victory Southern Africa and the entire African continent.

I thank you

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website